Tuesday, November 2


Weeks ago our entire family located on the Internet and printed out our voter registration information so voting would go smoothly. We confirmed our voting places, our registration status, and everything looked copasetik. The kids all either voted early or were in line at 6:30 a.m. this morning, and all reported no problems.

Well, I also voted today. Almost didn't. You wouldn't think that here in Texas there would be the kind of concern about voter eligibility that the swing states are experiencing, but NO! The Sage and I walked into our strongly Democratic, high-minority population district about 3:30 p.m. CST and went straight to the table, no line. In the first five minutes we heard four black men challenged, told they weren't registered, their names weren't on the polls, despite their insistence that they WERE registered, and in this precinct. I never heard anyone offer them a provisional ballot, so I said to the last one, "Be sure and ask for a provisional ballot if they won't let you vote." Then I got involved in our own troubles, so I never found out if he indeed got one.

First, The Sage was told by a male pollworker that he couldn't vote because his driver's license had a different address on it than his voter registration record. He explained that we had recently moved but had not changed our voter registration (I explained to the lady pollworker next to him that it was because we had wanted to vote one last time for Martin Frost). Meanwhile, The Sage asked me to show them my driver's license (I never changed my address). He quickly pocketed his own as we explained our situation, and after a little more arguing they were persuaded and off he went to vote.

I thought since we'd already taken care of that challenge, I would move pretty quickly. But NO! I was told that I couldn't vote because I'd been "challenged." Challenged by whom? I asked. I was told that I'd been sent mail that had been returned, so the county assumed I didn't live there anymore. Excuse me, I said, who exactly sent me mail? You didn't challenge my husband on this basis, and he's co-owner of our former residence, which, by the way, we still own. No one ever told me who, exactly, mailed me anything. They "assumed" it was something from the county. Well, let me see. That would be a utility bill, water bill, or something comparable, and all of our billing is in The Sage's name, not mine. So I'm still standing there mystified and not a little disgruntled. I turned to the lady pollworker (incidentally, she was the only black in the entire group, a little unusual in such a high-minority precinct) and said, "I've now seen five challenges in the last five minutes, and you don't even have a waiting line. Has this been happening all day?" She nodded and said almost under her breath, "Yes it has."

They finally directed me to the judge, who tried to read the law to me. "I don't need to know the law, I KNOW the law," I responded. "I want to know the origin of the challenge, I want a phone number that can help me to find that out, and I want to vote." We went back and forth for a few minutes, him repeatedly trying to read the law to me, and finally he told me I'd have to fill out some card in order to vote. I did so (it was an affirmation that I'm lawfully registered in the precinct and listing my new address), and before you know it (it doesn't take long to vote straight ticket) I was finished voting.

The Sage and I finally walked out to our car, but I had a second thought. I re-entered the polling place and asked the judge, "If I hadn't been so insistent and demanding, would I have walked out of here without your ever having told me there was a simple, immediate remedy?" His response? "Take off that Kerry button in here."

I'd forgotten that when we went back out to the car, I'd reapplied my Kerry-Edwards collar button.


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