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my vote count?

i’m gonna vote. i always do, even in the little elections where you go and have no idea who all these judges are that no one is running against. but i’m really not convinced that it all gets added up correctly. after all, the people running the voting are just human. and pretty stupid humans at that.

i voted for president in 2000. here’s my story.

i have to work at eight o’clock, so i always show up to vote at seven o’clock, and often i’m the first person to actually vote. although they may open at six. but they always fill out the little card for each voter and write the number on it, and more often that not, the number they write on my card is one.

anyway, i show up in 2000 in november on presidential election day, and walk up to the table for my election district. two elderly women sit behind it. i hand my voter card to one, and she gets the book where everyone is listed alphabetically and you have to sign before going to vote. “howard, last name howard,” i say to her, as she looks momentarily puzzled while staring at my voter registration card. but she has a backup plan. she has a crib sheet, although for her it’s sadly not cheating. someone has written the alphabet in order on the back of an envelope for her. she finds the “h” on the list, which is eight letters down. she gets the book, opens it, turns to the “a”s, looks back in confirmation at her envelope, turns to the “b”s, again confirms with the envelope, again turns in the book to the next letter.

i’m glad i got there early, and i’m glad my name ain’t zoward.

finally she gets to the “h”s, and then the “o” section of the “h”s, the second letter in my name. whereupon i impatiently point to my name and say “here, here it is.” i’m a patriotic proud american, but for chrissakes, i don’t have all day. so i sign the book, and the other woman fills out my card, and hands it to me.

i go to the booth, which another guy says isn’t set up yet so i have to fill out a paper ballot. new york still has the old flip-a-lever-and-pull-the-red-handle machines, and they probably don’t have the matchsticks jammed in the right counters yet. you know about that? cheating on elections was just invented in 2000. if you don’t know, google it. basically, they put matchsticks in the counters of the people they don’t want to win so tht if you vote for that person, the vote doesn’t get registered when you pull the red lever. eventually, the matchstick falls into the machinery and starts registering votes, and there’s no proof it ever happened. but by then, tens or hundreds or thousands of votes for a candidate aren’t recorded and no auditing is getting them back.

but that won’t happen to me, because i have a paper ballot. which i fill out, put in the official envelope and give to the proper poll worker. who takes it and throws it on top of her jacket on the bench behind her.

now, believe it or not, in real life i’m a fairly calm person. but this is too much. “can you please do something more official with my ballot than put it on your jacket on the bench?” i say. actually i say kind of loudly, because coincidentally at that moment some kind of supervisor arrives, assesses the situation, and goes and gets some kind of cardboard box with a slot for me to put my ballot in.

ah, much better. very secure. i feel better now.

lots of people in florida were disenfranchised in 2000. i know this because the massive press coverage told me so. do i think my vote counted in 2000? frankly, i have no idea whether anyone pulled my paper ballot out of the secure cardboard box and added it to the rest of the pile of votes from those ’60s-era voting machines. and i have a feeling tht there’s probably a lot of people around the country who get disenfranchised and don’t even know it. and we never hear about it.

when i read about various government efforts to make voting more secure by introducing electronic voting, i laugh my ass off. i just picture the woman with the alphabet written on the envelope trying to reboot a voting machine or modeming in the results or whatever.

maybe, though, i shouldn’t be laughing.

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