Monday, October 20, 2008
Angelinos eager to vote early in the General Election have to make the (not so long!) trek out to the County Registrar's office in Norwalk, CA. This morning, my mother and I followed in the footsteps of almost a thousand LA voters and cast our ballots early!
On the ride down the I-5, we talked about the different initiatives at stake, the candidates, and we shared a few laughs over Sarah Palin's guest-appearance on Saturday Night Live!
We pulled up to the Registrar's Office around 8AM and though it had just opened, there was already a crowd -- not to mention the TV cameras from several major news networks -- piling in through the door. In the elevator, we squeezed in alongside a fellow family couple: a father and daughter. They were registered in different precincts and had they waited until November 4th, they would have had to vote at different polling places. At the County Registrar, they could do it together. He, a seasoned voter...she, casting her ballot for the first time.
In California, we vote early by absentee ballot. This means that when you walk into the polling place, you apply for an absentee ballot, your application is processed while you wait, and within minutes, you've got a blank ballot! You don't use an InkaVote machine when voting early at the County Registrar. Instead, you fill in the bubbles that correspond to your votes, SAT-style. You choose your candidate, your judges, and your opinions on the many propositions at stake. When you're done, you seal the ballot in your absentee envelope, drop it in a slot, and PRESTO! You've voted early!
EXCEPT... if you make a mistake. Which I did. I accidentally filled in the wrong bubble on an incredibly important issue. Luckily for me, in-person voters are allowed three "do-overs" if they mess up.
On the way out, I grabbed an "I Voted" sticker -- yes, you do get one! -- and glanced over at the father and daughter we met earlier. They took their time... laughing and joking over the cardboard partitions that separate the voting booths. He could hardly conceal his pride as she sealed her envelope.
Critics often say that early voting diminishes the importance of Election Day. They say that by voting early, we miss out on the collective consciousness of that first Tuesday in November. I have to respectfully disagree. Election day is a random day when custom dictates that American citizens descend upon the polls to vote for the next president.
In the end, it doesn't matter when you vote, but how you vote. And by that I don't mean your choice of party or your opinion on the propositions...I mean the quality of your voting experience. Go with your friends! Go with your family! Arrange a voting party and carpool to the polls! Make this election meaningful to you.
On the way out of the Registrar's Office, I squeezed my mother's hand as we walked to the car.
"Thanks for coming," I said.
"Are you kidding?" she said, "I wouldn't have missed it for the world!"
Early Voting in Los Angeles County takes place at 12400 Imperial Highway, Norwalk, CA.
Weekday Hours: M-F 8AM-5PM, now through November 3rd
Weekend Hours: Sat/Sun October 24th & 26th and November 1st and 2nd, 8AM-4PM
For information on Early Voting in other states, visit DeclareYourself.com/WhyWait
Posted by Declare Yourself at 10:55 PM