February 05, 2008

Voting Green

Today is primary day in Illinois, and I had decided some weeks ago to vote in the Green primary, for a variety of reasons. I was looking forward to seeing what would happen at the polling place, where I knew I'd be likely to be the only one voting Green in my precinct (if not the city!).

I arrived and said my name, and they found me and checked me off the precinct list, and as they were doing that, I was glancing over to the stacks of ballots they had—one for the Dems and one for the Republicans. Not a good sign. Sure enough, they asked, "which ballot would you like, Democrat or Republican?"

I replied, "um, Green?" And the initial reaction was that I was teasing them because the counting slips and the bar across the top of the ballot itself were green on the Dem ballot (yellow for the Republicans). So there was a bit of, ah-ha, funny, Democratic then?, but I said, no, Green *party*. This seemed to ring a bell in the head of one of the judges, who turned to a small stack off to the side that were the Green Federal ballots (whose slips were white and the bar across the top of the ballot sheet itself was red).

Then ensued a bit of confusion because they knew there was a distinction between a "federal ballot" and a "primary ballot" (which I'm not too certain of myself but I think has something to do with whether you registered to vote far enough in advance of the election or something—the federal only lists the presidential candidates, while the other lists also all other local positions), and they thought I was entitled to a "primary ballot" but couldn't find any. I knew the Greens weren't running anybody in this district, so the ballots would be functionally equivalent, and was happy to settle for the federal.

As I was filling it out, the judges from the other precinct at the polling place were piping up to tell my judges that no, there really was a separate primary vs. federal ballot, and just then one of my judges found them. So we officially spoiled my first ballot (which I'd already marked), and at this point I observed that they were getting a lot of practice with the more rarely used pieces of electoral judge procedure. :)

Finally handed a Green Primary Ballot, I marked my candidate, fed it into the machine, thanked everyone, and headed home.

Overall grade: C+. They didn't offer me a Green ballot initially, which they were supposed to, and then tried to give me a Dem ballot even after I asked for Green. And then, they gave me the wrong Green ballot. However, it is at least a passing grade, because there was no active discouragement (just confusion) and in the end I was in fact able to vote the correct ballot. The plus is because they were so darn polite about the whole thing and incredibly eager to help me get through the democratic process.

Though I don't want to ascribe any malice to anyone over the choice, picking green to represent the Dems was really unfortunate. I like in general the idea of picking a random, or at least arbitrary, color to represent each party, but when the name of one party is the same as the color associated with another, this is just begging for problems....

But still, I'm positively giddy over having voted in an actual, honest-to-God Green Party primary today. Hurray democracy!

"Real hypocrisy is not in the failure to practice what one preaches, for ideals that may be practiced without stumbling are hardly worth preaching in the first place. Rather, hypocrisy is the failure to forgive the particular failings of others the way you'd forgive yourself for your own particular failings, to see the good despite the bad in yourself but not in others." --Jonathan Prykop

Posted by blahedo at 3:50pm on 5 Feb 2008
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