Wednesday, August 25, 2010

One Woman - One Vote

Yes, I did.  Today, as my marriage is celebrating the fact that it is old enough to be president, I cast my ballot.

The polling place wasn't where the postcard had said it would be, but I was driving so it wasn't that big of a deal.  Of course, the fact that the people and machines were in the Y's gym and not on the campus of the Community College was somewhat confusing, but I just kept driving through their adjoining parking lots until I saw the signs exhorting me to 

          VOTE HERE     I am nothing if not obedient, so I parked and entered and
       followed the similarly sized and shaped arrows down the hall and past the Silver Sneakers doing their chair aerobics and down the ramp and there it was, in the gym, just like it ought to be.  G'ma was an election monitor/poll watcher/voter registrar in every election I can remember growing up.  These people were just as swell as she used to be.  We joshed and kibbitzed and giggled and verified and I turned down the offer of a heavy folder in which to transport my completed ballot from one side of the gym to the other.  Security was tight in Pima County today, rest assured. 

I've given up whingeing about the demise of the old fashioned voting booths.  I loved pulling down the individual levers and then shifting the heavy handle at the bottom to register my choices and open the curtain.  I am sure that my optical scan ballot is more difficult to alter and much quicker to read, but it doesn't feel very official.  I flash to Survivor as I deposit my paper ballot in the receptacle near the doorway, and I accepted my sticker with a smile.  

The physical experience of voting was fine.  The emotional toll it took was not.  Explore with me, if you will, the wonder that is Arizona's Candidate Statement Pamphlet/Primary Election.

There are disclaimers and greetings and explanations before we get to the meat of the document.  I am struck by the fact that the County Recorders all have different forms of email addresses :  and and and and  Wouldn't you think that local control could give way to simplicity and symmetry?  

Then, there are the maps.  Do you know the number of your Legislative District?  I knew ours was somewhere in the 20's, but we're right on the edge of Tucson and Oro Valley and Marana so every candidate from 25, 26, 27 and 28 has signs up at the intersections.  I thought I would recognize the candidates I had to investigate, but the names all sounded familiar.  I guess that doesn't speak very highly of the current incumbent, does it.  He or she has not been doing a very good job of getting her name stamped on my consciousness.   So, when searching the 125 pages of names and statements brought me no closer to figuring out which were mine, I went to the front of the book and looked at the map.  Do you see any street names?  I know that I live east of I-10 and north of the Rillito River (yes, that translates to Little River River... another anomaly of Tucson's nomenclature) so I decided that District 26 was mine, but I wasn't certain until I got into the voting booth and looked at the ballot before me.  I had checked out District 27, too, just in case the map was as inaccurate as the location postcard.

Voting shouldn't be this hard.  And I hadn't even started to investigate the candidates.  

I stopped thinking that anyone with a robo-call would not get my vote when I realized that every single candidate had called during dinner time.  The list was longer than the piece of paper on which I was keeping track, so I put my petty cavils aside and plunged into the book.  

America is a wonderful country.  Anyone can grow up to be President.  That doesn't mean that everyone should follow that career path.  Read on, denizens, and be amazed.... disturbed... disappointed... bemused... depressed..... wherever your heart and your mind take you rest assured, I've been there too.

Janice K. Brewer, Jan to those of us who are stuck with her as Governor, is, apparently a national leader on illegal immigration and border security.  That's one way to put it.

Ronald Cavanaugh, running on the Libertarian ticket, worries about those who are left with no care for there children and family.  Yes, Mr. Cavanaugh, spelling counts.  Bruce Olsen, another Libertarian candidate for governor, thinks we need to produce our food locally and consume locally.  I'm all for eating foods that grow in the neighborhood, but it's kind of a self-limiting selection for most of the year here in the desert southwest.  And as for consuming locally, is he encouraging me not to eat when I travel?  Or is he encouraging me to eat more when I'm home?  Inquiring voters want to know.

We vote for State Mine Inspector in Arizona.  Somehow, I have the feeling that I don't know enough about mining or safety to make an informed choice.  A degree from the Austin Powder Blasting Academy and a daughter who's a navigator on the Destroyer U.S.S. Donald Cook may or may not qualify Manuel Cruz for the job.  On the other hand, Joe Hart has experience driving a hualpak and has 4 daughters and 8 grandchildren.  It's a quandry.

There's something called the Corporation Commission here in Arizona.  Here is an overview of the Corporation Commission, taken from its website, 

In most states, the Commission is known as the Public Service Commission or the Public Utility Commission. Our Commission, however, has responsibilities that go beyond traditional public utilities regulation. These additional roles include facilitating the incorporation of businesses and organizations, securities regulation and railroad/pipeline safety.
Not only are these the people who set our utility rates, they also function as a mini-SEC and NTSB and Office of Economic Development.  Why isn't mine inspection included?  

And then there are the candidates for State Representative .  Ray Cullison II wants to know why we are spending money printing materials in another language.  Perhaps he should have read the explanation on page 3  of the pamphlet, the one where the Voting Rights Act of 1975 is explained, including the language minority provisions amendment.  Chester Crandell believes government exists to protect our God-given rights.  Funny, I thought it existed to protect our Constitutionally guaranteed rights.  God was kept out of the equation, as I recall. Teri Conrad and her husband celebrated (their) 34th anniversary by hiking the Grand Canyon and Sally Gonzales is married with five grown daughters...(and) has spent the last four years enjoying quality time with her husband, Luis, as well as with both her mother and mother in law....(and) their nineteen grandchildrenWhy any of that would make me cast a vote in her favor remains a mystery.  

There are candidates who are endorsed by Sheriff Joe Arpaio and there are those who are not.  Randy Parraz, running for US Senate, brags that he was arrested by Sheriff Joe.  There are Native Americans and Native Arizonans and recent migrants and some of them are probably smart enough and tough enough and engaged enough to deserve my vote.  I just wish I had a better way to sort it all out.

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