I decided to vote early this year. I wanted to get it over with, as politicians, pundits, and sadly, even friends, are getting shriller and openly adamant about this mid-term election. This way, when I’m pushed, I can just say I already voted, and there’s no “October surprise” that’s going to effect what I did now.
But I didn’t feel any better for having voted early. Peter and I found the county registrar of voters, an intimidating-looking building on the northeast side of San Jose, where we could vote early in person. We filled in short paper forms, and received the 3 page double-sided ballot for our area, together with voting instructions, and went to the little stand-up desks, exactly the same as we’ll have them in our local voting place, to place our votes. Like an absentee ballot (which this effectively is), we had to place our ballots in an envelope and sign it.
I have no doubt my vote will be counted. Already I saw two long tables with people carefully cutting open the sealed absentee ballots and laying them flat in the right position in order to be fed into ballot readers on November 2. These are the results which will show up as early returns, no sooner than 8 pm (when ballot stations close, so early results can’t skew voting.)
But I became even more nervous about the possibility of voter fraud. I’m already not too keen on the fact that you can (and nay, are almost encouraged to) vote without any ID, beyond a signature. I asked if my name would still appear on the roster at my local precinct on election day, and it will. Now, it’s illegal for me (or worse, a Carolyn impersonator) to go over that day and fill out another ballot series, but as far as I can tell, there’s no safeguards against it. And if so, which ballot would they eliminate?
Another scary thing was the fact that you are required to sign the envelope with your early vote–maybe. The fact is, someone else can sign in your place, stating you’re too feeble to sign your own name. If you’re that feeble, they’re also filling in your vote for you, and I’m not comfortable with that, either.
It was terribly clear that our voting system depends heavily on trust. And while I trust my friends to vote just once, I’m not so sure there aren’t a lot of other people who place multiple votes, given how very easy it is to do, and the fact that some people are so fired up they believe the means of breaking voting laws justifies the end of having their favored candidate in office, or their precious cause to pass. And so I didn’t feel better about having gotten the vote over with; the voting is far from over, and I’m just one of the schmucks who actually followed the rules.