Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The 2008 Primary Election

Someplace in San Antonio

My trip to the polls this morning was disappointing; almost uneventful. I'm a registered Democrat, so had almost nothing to vote on. Oh, how different than four years ago, when I served as Associate Judge at our local polling precinct. It was a day fraught with emotion, and one that frustrated me so much that I lost faith in the whole process.

Journey back with me to 2008....

By 6:00am that day, there was a line of voters waiting to get in, though the polls didn’t open until 6:30. As soon as we opened the doors, we got a feel for the day. Three voters right off the bat switched their party affiliation to Democrat and we had them fill out the 10-X. We braced ourselves for a busy day. But, it never came. Attendance at our poll was as lacking and I figured that it was only natural; our county was 92% Republican and the Republican ballot didn’t hold anything exciting. Whether voters turned out or not, McCain would probably be the winner.

My husband called around 3:00 to ask me how it was going and asked whether a lot of people were coming in and switching to Democrat. By that point, we’d had a good number switching, and many of the people who weren’t affiliated with one party or another chose to vote the Democratic ticket. But I thought at that point it was probably 50/50.

Then Mike told me that on talk radio, the Republicans were encouraging voters to go out, switch their parties and vote for Hillary Clinton, because they felt confident that McCain could beat Hillary in November, but might not beat Barack. I thought that was completely ridiculous. Apparently Bill Cunningham and Rush Limbaugh were the instigators behind this scheme.

Well, no sooner did I get off the phone with Mike than a woman came up to the table. The other pollworker and I went through our usual spiel with the woman in front of us.

“Would you like a Republican ballot with issues, Democratic ballot with issues, or an issues only ballot?”

She was registered as Republican.

“Well, I’m a Republican, but I have a strategy, so I think I’ll vote Democratic this time.”

I was stunned. Could people really be following the advice of those slimy radio hosts? And be so blatant about it???

I had her fill in the 10-X and explained that she was in effect registering herself with the Democratic Party. She signed and asked how soon she could change it back.

I was pretty sure that was voter fraud. The paragraph they had to sign warned against voter falsification, but we had been instructed that everyone challenging their party was to be approved. There was nothing we could do about it. As poll workers, we were not allowed to express any political views at all. We couldn’t even read the names of the nominees allowed. So we had to let her go.

A few more followed her. They ran through the pelting rain and came inside out of breath, wet and cold. They stood before me and announced that they wanted to vote the Democratic ballot. By this point, I felt sickened by what was happening before me. It was so underhanded, and there was nothing I could do about it. I had to follow the rules and let them vote fraudulently. I was absolutely sickened by it.

The only tactic I could take was to read the 10-X challenge to them as they signed their names. Once I told a few women that they needed to sign the form and align themselves with the Democratic party, they balked and said they didn’t want to be registered Democrats. So they mercifully got the Republican tickets they were supposed to have.

I complained to Sue, our Presiding Judge. Sue was sympathetic to me being upset, but she very diplomatically said that the problem was that people didn’t understand what the primary election was all about. That was sweet of her, and perhaps there were a few who didn’t understand the purpose of the primaries, but I think that for the most part, they knew exactly what they were doing.

By the end of the day, our numbers said it all. Of 300 voters at our precinct that day, 154 had voted Democrat, 145 Republican, and 1 non-party. That was certainly a switch from the 92% Republican status that was, and probably still is, Butler County.

Hillary Clinton won Ohio.

Back to today...
There's been talk about Democrats doing the same thing that Republicans did four years ago, switching our parties to Republican so that we can have a say who gets on the Republican ticket. But I, for one, don't want to do that. If that's the dirty game of politics, leave me out of it.

1 comment:

  1. I'm not at all surprised that Dems are doing that this year, and like you, I don't want to play that game. If that's how we have to win, then we don't deserve to.