We’ve already discussed the most important form of voting in this space, but with Election Day rolling up on us (yes. Again.  AGAIN), I thought I’d focus on the less vital task of picking the people who basically run our lives and which country at which to point missiles of peace.

First of all, in order to reinforce the confidence of the American public in the electoral process, I must reveal that the Commonwealth of Virginia once made me an election official. This is partially why, you understand, Ohio is superior in all things.

I worked at the polls in a Presidental primary, because I wanted to plunge myself into the state I’d just begun to occupy and because I wish to truly become a part of the election process and because the Election Board said that it would give me one hundred dollars.

Virginia was hosting a dual primary. This called for a complicated precinct-based voting system which consisted of a red binder and a blue binder on a folding table. I was not allowed to ask the voters which party they belonged to; instead, I had to say, “Which primary are you voting in?”, and distribute the appropriate ballot, because then, and only then, would I know– according to social media– whether or not I was supposed to hate this person.

I was forbidden, by law, to answer any questions about the candidates. This was, unfortunately, tied to the rule prohibiting me from denying anyone a ballot, which made me very sad, because anybody who approached the polling place and sought voting advice from the blonde handing out the ballots had absolutely no business voting in the first place. It was to the point where I was not even permitted to distribute information about who was on which ballot; if somebody shambled up to me and yelled, “I like the guy who wears shoes! Which piece of paper is he on?” I had to instead direct the person study to a sample ballot in search of said candidate, and hope that he got permanently lost on his way back to the booth.

Becoming an election official was an excellent career move, for at the training session, which consisted of a solid hour of PowerPoint, I was the square root of everybody else’s age. Having just turned thirty-one, it was immensely satisfying for someone to turn to me and say, “How nice to see some young people here!” When the session opened with the staff handing out pins to people who have been working the polls longer than I’d been alive, and ended with the crowd gasping in total amazement when an animated GIF of a donkey and an elephant appeared on the screen, I had no right to anxiously duck out to the ladies’ room mirror to assess the possible damage the fluorescent light was dealing to my crow’s feet.

The session instilled confidence in the Electoral Board from the start, beginning as it did with a series of hand-markered directional signs taped to a succession of garbage cans. The first turn led me to directly face the bathroom, but fortunately there was another Sharpie-created arrow affixed to the skirt of the lady sign, so I mazed my way to a mega-secret conference room which contained reams of sample ballots and, I would hope, an explanation as to why Virginia has no awesomely named state parks like Kentucky does. (This, however, is a right valiant effort.)

There was much discussion about what to do if a voter returns to us with an uncast ballot in his or her hand and requests one for the other party instead. In that case, I was to go to the Blue Or Red Binder Of Democracy, and find that person’s name, and write down “VCM”, which meant “Voter Should Be Removed From Genetic Pool.” I was warned that this would happen more than once. “You know,” said the trainer confidentially, “how people are.”

As we await the results of the Golden Glove awards, then, try to distract yourselves with the people disbursing your tax money. After all, they are Very Vital, and will certainly tell you so.

12 Responses

  1. cfd3000

    Thank you Mary Ellis. My morning definitely sucks less because I got to read this entertaining distraction. But even if it weren’t Monday and even if I had chosen, like I do these days with so many of the eleventy three bazillion news articles on my morning feed every day, to read the headline, glean what little useful information I could without investing time in head spinning attempts at greater comprehension, and pass on the main article, I would still have loved this entry. With the possible exception of the “Joey Votto is Perfect” category that RLN has established to reference past articles, “Choose the Form of the Destructor” is the best RLN headline in the last several forevers. Thank you for the Monday morning smiles.

    • cfd3000

      Oh and then by way of thanks I leave out half of your name in my reply, and with my luck probably the half you are fondest of. You may feel free in future to refer to me as CFD30 and I will consider myself 99% admonished. Oops.

      • Eric

        Y’know, it’s getting to where the comments on MBE’s columns are at least 23.8% of the fun.

        And I can totally relate to the eleventy three bazillion news articles part…which is why I come here on a Monday. 🙂

      • Mary Beth Ellis

        No problem! 🙂 Those of us who don’t really have a middle name are used to it, especially when 3rd class mail shows up.

  2. Eric

    Having spent part of my growin’-up time in Erlanger, I remember taking field trips to Big Bone Lick State Park, before it would ever occur to me how insanely funny that was. Years later, seven of us piled into a Big Red Lincoln Continental in Louisville to drive up to a Reds game (no, really)…and passed by the road sign announcing the upcoming attraction:

    Entire car: [Silence]

    One mile passes…

    Entire car: [Silence]

    My buddy Dave: Big…Bone Lick???

    Entire car: [Peals of laughter]

    Good times.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      The proximity of Kentucky is one of the things that makes Ohio so awesome.

  3. Scott Carter

    Great post. I aways enjoy these Monday mornings reading your articles. The best thing about Ohio is it is where the Reds are located, but Virginia winters are a little milder and in all fairness Mary Beth you were probably in Northern Virginia which is almost an entirely different state than the rest of the Commonwealth. I do agree however we have no state parks with great names like Big Bone Lick (nor town’s names Monkeys Eyebrow) but we do have some State Parks that you can’t Pronounce. Go ahead and try saying Occoneechee three times in a row fast.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Yes, we were in Leesburg. But my first winter there was a shock because I’d been living in Florida for about 5 years. Freezing!

  4. Michael

    Marty Beth I was an election official from age 19-28 and I feel your pain.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      There’s a reason why I haven’t kept it up here in OH.

  5. Mary Beth Ellis

    Plus Votto as an MVP finalist!

  6. Mary Beth Ellis

    After I moved out of the state, I got a phone call the next election day at 445 AM wondering where I was.