When I got to my voting station, I told the 20-something man at the front table that I hadn’t received my voter’s card. “What should I do?” I asked.
“Do you know your last name?” He asked me.
I stared at him for a second and then replied, “Did you just ask me if I know my own last name?”
“Er….” He said, realizing what he’d done. “Yes.”
“I do.” I said, giving him my last name. I was thinking to myself, “My God, not only do we let people like you vote, we hire you to work during the election? Brilliant…”
I did not voice my thoughts.
“O.K.” He replied. “And… do you know where you live?”
“As a matter of fact, I do!” I said. And I told him.He shuffled through some papers and then directed me to one of the tables in the room.
I went over and explained the situation. They looked me up on their sheet and the man sitting at that table said, “Oh yes… Here you are… And according to this… You have already voted.”
“I have?” I asked. “Um… well… actually… no… I haven’t. And here’s my driver’s license, saying I am who I say I am.”
“Oh!” He exclaimed, looking at his papers again. “Well, it says here that you’ve already voted… Oh, no… Wait a minute… No, it says you’ve been deleted.”
“Deleted?” I asked.
“Well… yes.” He replied. “Have you moved?”
And clearly, I was not deceased, either.
“Hhmmm….” He said. “I think I need a Supervisor.”
(You need more than that, I thought. But again, I kept my thoughts to myself.)
A Supervisor was brought over. It was someone I knew! He was a student I’d had in an adult education Spanish class some years ago.
He appeared not to recognize me, though.
He looked at the documents, checked my driver’s license and then said, “Hhhmm… I need to call this one in to find out what to do. Come with me, please.” I was escorted out of the voting room.
As we walked out of the room, I said, “Have you ever taken Spanish?” I knew the answer, but I wanted to see what he’d say.
“Yes,” he replied, looking at me with surprise. “How did you know?”
“I was your teacher.”
He looked at me again and said, “Oh! Sarah! It’s… been a long time.”
“Yes, it has… maybe eight or nine years?”
“Something like that. Well, let’s see if we can’t get this sorted out so you can vote.”
He ushered me over to a phone, pulled a business card out of his breast pocket and dialed the number on it. As he was dialing he said, “I’m sorry I didn’t recognize you. You’ve lost some weight… A good deal of weight?”
“Yes,” I said. I am always shocked when people say they don’t recognize me for that reason. I see me every day, so I suppose that I don’t notice much change. But I must confess, I do appreciate it when people tell me they’ve noticed. It’s encouraging.
At least he didn’t say, “Oh, it’s been eight or nine years and your hair wasn’t so grey back then.”
At least it wasn’t that.
And in fact, his reason for not recognizing turned out to be the highlight of my time at the polling station.
After the phone call, he was Authorized to allow me to vote. I was unceremoniously handed a registration form, which I had to fill out to confirm that I was who I said I was. Then I was allowed to go and mark my X on my ballot.
But not until I had proven that:
- I knew my last name.
- I knew where I lived.
- I was able to effectively argue that I had not already voted.
- I did not deny that I was not already deceased.
- I had, for all intents and purposes been “deleted” by the government.
- I patiently waited for Authorization that would allow the electoral staff to “un-delete” me and permit me to vote.
As I write this, I do not know the final results of the election. But I confess that this morning's events have not inspired confidence in me.