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November 2nd, 2004

Election Day 2004

I arrived at Method Road Community Center at about 7:15. There were about 15 people standing in line outside the community center. I joined the end of the line and people quickly joined the line behind me. This perky little white woman, and I hate perky in the morning, came down the line, "What's the first letter of your last name?"

"M," I said when she got to me.

Down the line she went. When she was done she walked back to the front, ducked inside to see what lines might be ready to have more people brought in for them. Out she came.

"O through R? Anybody with last names starting with O through R? Come forward." Some came, and she shooed them in.

From the beginning again, back down the line she started, "What letter does your last name start with?"

When she got to me, "M," I said again.

Okay, after about the third or fourth time of this, I was thinking, "Lady! What are you doing with this information? You're walking up and down the line asking us what our last name begins with, then once in a while you go back to the door, ask inside, come out and say, "A through F. If your last name begins with A through F, come inside please." Back down the line again? What does your last name begin with? What are you doing with this information about our last names? No decisions are being based on it! You're not remembering them! Why do you keep asking us?

After about the 7th or 8th time, she says, "Last names O through R, come over here." And she sets them in a mini-line off to the side. God knows what that line is going to do. So she has about five Os through Rs there, and in the meantime more people are coming to the end of the main line with no idea that there's this mini-line for the Os through Rs, so they're just joining the end of the main line. I'm thinking, "Jesus, lady, I don't know what in the hell you are imagining you are doing to help here, but you're basically creating busy work, and that's it. No help. Nada. Nothing."

After about his 7th or 8th time of telling wacko woman what the first initial of his last name was, this black man about 3 people ahead of me, looked at his watch and said to a friend of his leaving. "I got to go, too. I got an appointment at 8:00. I'll have to come back later."

As he starts walking away, he says to wacko woman, "I got an appointment. I'll have to come back later."

She says all perky, "You make sure you come back now!"

He turns as he continues to walk down the sidewalk and responds, "You make sure you remember the first letter of my last name now!" The whole place fell out.

Then she formed another little mini-line of As through Fs and put them over in another section of the sidewalk. Then she'd go up and when she finally called the Os through Rs, that other little mini-line came forward, no differently than they would have had she left them in the main line. Unbelievable.

She explained the process to at least three different people who asked why there was a line outside. "We're out here in this one line (this was before she used her voodoo logic to break people up), then once you go inside there are six lines where you check in. One line is for A - F, then one for G-J, then K - N, etc. Once you get through that line everyone funnels into one line where you get your ballot. Then you get at the end of one line that feeds to 10 voting booths and one voting table -- the table's so you can sit down to vote if you need to.

Then she'd say, "But it's so nice out here that we're just letting people wait out here and calling them in as the last name lines get low. But you can wait inside if you'd like to."

Now I'm thinking, "Oh my God. What is she saying?" She's saying that if people anywhere in the line want to wait inside, they can just walk right up in front of all these people and wait in these little mini-lines that are inside the door, but before the last name lines. Then when the people working the last name lines indicate that they're ready for more K - N's, for example, the K's - N's who just walked inside would be the first in the last name lines inside -- before the people outside, some of whom will have been there longer but have chosen to wait outside instead of inside -- could make their way in there.

"Jesus!" I'm thinking now. "Who is this woman?" Most unbelievable. She made me crazy. Can you tell?

I got through the check-in line without incident. At this point, some people's names were not found, and they had to get in one of two other lines where they were doing provisional balloting. These lines had one very slow person working one of them, and they hardly moved. At one point, they got so long they were crossing into the A - F check-in line.

I spent about 45 minutes total there. I got my "I voted," sticker on the way out, and was to work by 8:30.

The entire TIGR meeting today was taken up by Randy sharing the results of the Raleigh audit with the Austin folks who are having theirs next week.

We had book club lunch. Everyone was there except Janet. At one point, Sharon accidentally flung a slice of zucchini squash at me while trying to either cut it or stab it with her fork to eat. A minute or so after that, Mary bopped me on the head while animatedly telling a story. She announced that she is probably going to move to Tampa some time next year.

On the way to class, I heard a short blurb on All Things Considered about a nuclear physicist, who used to design bombs, who died last week. They had an audio clip of a short interview with one of his friends who was talking about him. "He was like an artist. His colleagues would use calculations, but he would just draw them. As a result his bombs were elegant. And they were much more efficient. He had a feel for size and shape, like a sculptor really." This so related to our class discussion on expediency last night in ENG 512.

We waited for 10 minutes for Dr. Dicks to arrive, and then someone created a roster sheet with the title, "We Were Here." Those of us who were signed it, and someone slipped it under his door.

I met a311renegade at Carmichael. He was already on an elliptical machine when I arrived. There were none free, so I took a stair-stepper. I did it on a pretty low level, because it's been so long since I worked out that I wanted to be able to walk tomorrow. I did 30 minutes, and burned off a little less than 300 calories. a311renegade and I walked close to two miles, I think, after that.

At home, I had a big old delicious salad, and searched the npr.org website for the audio clip I had heard earlier. I transcribed the words to bring to class tomorrow.

I checked cnn.com a couple of times about the election results, but it wasn't looking good, and I didn't want to obsess over it. I thought, "I'll just go to bed, and check it in the morning. Hopefully it will all be settled then.

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