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I Voted: A Polling Station Review

When was the last time you really hunkered down and dug into a juicy squirrel pot pie? You know, the ones you get at the Parks & Rec Snack Shop where they are really fresh. Like, baked that very morning, off-the-tree fresh? With that lightly toasted Kings Hawaiian bun and cranberry mayonnaise? Makes your mouth water just thinking about it, doesn’t it? Well, it makes SOMETHING water, that’s for sure.

vote signAnyway, that’s not why I called you here today. No, today I want to tell you how this last Tuesday was a first for me in that I’ve never voted on Election Day before. I mean, I’ve voted a time or two (literally), but never at an actual polling station.

That’s right, this apathetic voter has previously voted exclusively by mail or as the government pejoritavely puts it: “absentee”. As in, you weren’t actually THERE, so we will count your votes LAST so that you won’t feel like you are part of the process.

So this year with my barely-read Official Voter Information Guide in hand, I went to the polls.

Our polling station’s voter incentive program kicks ass. Sometimes, it’s a celebrity appearance, or a really cool toy, but this time they had pies for the first 100 people to show up. Or something like that.

polling place 100 feet

Man, I couldn’t wait to get in there and line up with my fellow Americans and exercise my rights. Standing shoulder to shoulder with my neighbors and poke a chad or two.

votin poll booths

So the check-in guy hands me my ballot in a manila folder marked “super top secret ballot holder” or whatever and I say, “Uh, I’ve never done this before.” And this guy looked at me like he didn’t know what it meant for a middle-aged English-speaking white woman to utter such words.

“In person, I mean.”

The young man just kept staring. I was waiting for him to hand me my chad poker, or give me more instructions, and I opened up the folder to see a chad-less ballot. GASP! Oh no! It was more like a Scan-Tron-like, fill-in-the-bubble thingie.

This was a disaster of terrifying proportions. Like a girl who dreams of her big wedding day with overblown romantic expectations, I had always imagined my first time to be special. I fully expected poking to be involved. Instead, my new mission was to stay inside the lines. I had not prepared for this.

However, I am not without mindful resources. Adapt or die, I always say. I bucked up and did what I always do when confronted with unfamiliar situations: ask a bunch of stupid questions.

“So what do I use to fill in the bubbles with?”, I asked.

The woman next to him waved a pen in the air, but wouldn’t give it to me.

“Uhhhh, do you have those in the stations?”

Seriously, I can’t believe how stupid I get sometimes. Of course they had them in the stations. Where else would they be? Jeez.

My already blown chadpoking dreams deteriorated even further when another woman directed me away from the polling booths to a desk.

A desk!

polling booth

And not just a desk, but a small corner of a desk because of some stupid machinery sitting on it.

Booo! Hissss!!!!

Now, when I am at a restaurant I have no problem asking for a booth when they start leading me to a table in the middle of the room with a centerpiece that takes up the whole table so you can’t actually eat off it.  But I have this childhood-instilled fear of authority and so I sat down and pouted like a child facing the corner with her back to the class who’s in trouble for asking the teacher stupid questions.

And another thing! Where were my privacy curtains? Didn’t they use to have those, too? What’s this world coming to, for Pete’s sakes?

Then there was the woman in front of me in the ballot scanning line who voted for two people for President and was sent back to the principal’s office to be scolded and given another ballot. Ha Ha! What a dummy. Yet they let her have a booth. Life is so unfair sometimes.

I waited outside for my husband to emerge from the polling place and enjoyed the scenery of the park-like setting, or as I like to call it, “Duck Butt Pond”.

voting sticker duck butt

I slapped that sticker on with pride and drove around town to show it off before heading home because I never had a “I Voted” sticker before.

voting sticker marg

What, is it upside down? Did I put it on the wrong side? I put it on the wrong side didn’t I? Gawd, how embarrassing. I’m a newbie, get off my back. At least I voted.

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  1. Greg Mischio says:

    Wait, hold on. Election? When was all this?

    1. Margaret says:

      Oh, thank heavens I’m not the only one.

  2. Jayne says:

    What was that weird machine with the screen? I got a paper ballot, Sharpie, and bubbles to fill in, too, but no weird scanning machine. I just stuffed mine into a box with a hole in the side. Must be rural living. But I did get the nifty sticker. I’ve always voted in person. I don’t trust all that absentee stuff.

    1. Margaret says:

      I have no idea what that machine with the screen was, I guess it must have been a voting machine for …. disabled people? Maybe? I have no idea.

  3. JunkDrawer says:

    I had to vote by absentee ballot this year, as I was out of state on Election Day. Totally anti-climactic. Checking a box was just not as fun as pulling a lever. We have levers here. And curtains. Curtains are great, except the first time I got in a booth with a curtain, I started taking off my clothes and asking where the shower nozzles and soap were. Very embarrassing.

    1. Margaret says:

      Oh my goodness, you have real REAL voting polls, like the kind you see in movies. I’ve never seen a lever in real life before! What’s it like? How come you guys get all the cool stuff. Is it because you’re in one of the original thirteen colonies?

  4. lgsquirrel says:

    A “WHAT!??!” Pot Pie?!?!? Really, NGIP, you’d never catch me posting about delicious goat meat kebabs. I see we may have to send you for inter-species sensitivity classes. But congrats on voting.

    1. Margaret says:

      Ha! I’m sorry, Squirrel Man. For a political post, this wasn’t very politically correct, was it. I apologize. Maybe I should have said mock squirrel pot pie? 😀

  5. sueann says:

    Congrats…and you survived. Now inquiring minds need to know? Did you get your pie?????? And what was it?

    1. Margaret says:

      Why does everyone want to know what kind of pie I got? Shows where everyone’s mind is at. And what their priorities are. 🙂

  6. George Turnbull says:

    Here in the UK we have a Hi-tec voting system.

    A pencil and paper!

    1. Margaret says:

      what???? You cavemen.

  7. Collette Palmer says:

    Our “booths” were cardboard constructions (no curtains) & the woman in front of me was an older foreign woman who filled in all 4 single party spots. Congrats on voting “in person”!!!

    1. Margaret says:

      See? It doesn’t matter if it’s chad or bubbles, people will screw it up.

  8. I miss the old voting booths that had the curtains and everything. (Fun fact: They were actually invented here in Rochester.) I filled in my bubbles and shoved my paper into the machine and got my sticker. One of the kids at school asked if they could have my sticker (because little kids love stickers)… I told them “Hellz, NO!”. Grow up and get your own damn sticker, dammit! (Filling in bubble paper will do that to you.)

    1. Margaret says:

      “Grow up and get your own damn sticker” <—- Nice!

  9. Shut the fuck up, Donny! This is the first year I voted for REAL at the poll booths too.

    “Where were my privacy curtains”

    Thats what I’d like to know.

    And, I’d also like to know how the heck you were allowed to take photos int there?

    I just about had my head ripped off when I took out my camera!

    1. Margaret says:

      That’s because you live in a communist state, whereas I live in a hippie-free-love bleeding heart liberal do whatever you want, man state. (Actually, I was waiting for them to say something, but they never did.) How cool that we got to share our fist time together voting in person though.

  10. I’ve been a “permanent absentee” voter-by-mail for years now, and I hope never to visit a polling place again. The only drawback is that I don’t get an “I Voted” sticker, which makes me pout. 🙁

    1. Margaret says:

      I can see the attraction of voting in person, but the thought of waiting in any kind of line makes me want to take a nap.

  11. Ben Swilley says:

    Don’t ever eat the squirrel pot pie unless you know who cleaned the squirrels. If they don’t take the hair off the squirrels. you can have a real mess on your hands… and in your teeth. The Polling Place sign has different languages on it. Is that Chinese or Japanese? The other sign warns you that you must fish with a barbless hook and release your catch. There is a duck in the water mooning you! There is just too much confusion for you to comprehend before you ever get inside. When we vote, we are given a plastic card the size of a credit card. It slips into a slot in the machine and we vote on a touch screen. You should go back to voting on an absentee ballot. This was not good for you. No wonder you got the “I Voted” sticker in the wrong place. It goes across the bridge of your nose. It makes the breathing easier and the air fresher for you because you voted.

    1. Margaret says:

      LOL! You kill me. And your’e the first person to notice the barbless hook reference. And I figured everybody had to do it the same. But you seem to be way more advanced than us with the computer touch screen and all.

  12. You are adorably goofy! I have done the absentee for so many years I don’t have a clue what I would do in that situation. (Oh, I’d bat my eyelashes and beg the cute guy working at the poll to help me like I do at the service station and I don’t want to put in my own gas, but other than that, I’d be lost.)

    1. Margaret says:

      Awwww, I can’t remember the last time anybody called me adorably goofy. I think you’re the first, actually. I can totally see you easily getting out of pumping gas.

  13. Cheryl P. says:

    Yes, your polling place is nicer than mine as well. I voted a couple of weeks ago in the “advanced voting”. (in a mall) I feel your apprehension when you are voting differently than you have in the past. Every time we move, the voting machines are a bit different. I always have some fear that I won’t figure it out but I always do.

    1. Margaret says:

      You have to think that if we’re smarter than the average bear that if we have any trouble figuring it out it’s because we’re over-thinking it.

  14. Your polling place is much cooler than mine! We don’t have pies or duck butts!
    I do feel your pain on no chad. I miss the days of using that little poker to vote – it felt much more real and important than filling in a stupid little circle with a marker. I want the curtains too – red, white, and blue ones at that!

    1. Margaret says:

      I don’t care if it’s a chad or a bubble, people can still screw it up either way (like that woman in front of me who wanted 2 people for President).

  15. Nezzy says:

    Oh my goodness glory girl, I saw Squirrel Pot Pie and ‘could hardly contain myself!!! There has been only one time that I voted absentee. I have to drive down south to a little spot in the road school house turned community buildin’ (really…there’s no community) to vote but no one was givin’ away any pie.

    One of the first times I visited the Ponderosa before Farm Boy and I were hitched, I walked into future MIL’s kitchen and there in the sink was what looked like a bunch of skinned cats. Yep, they were squirrels. She was plannin’ squirrel and dumplins for lunch. ‘Totally lost my appetite.

    ‘Guess in the Ozarks, ya should always ask what the ‘meat’ is! Heeehehehehhee!

    Great post sweetie, have a blessed day!!! :o)

    1. Margaret says:

      Squirrel and Dumplins???? That’s awesome, Nezzy!

  16. Pricilla says:

    They don’t let goats vote in Montana. Can you believe such a thing?! The publicist voted and here in this great state they use PAPER BALLOTS. Her polling place had one computer for use but besides the male person and the publicist most people were AFRAID TO USE IT BECAUSE IT WOULD NOT COUNT MY VOTE OR IT WOULD CHANGE MY VOTE.

    The publicist finds her new state amusing.

    There was even a line this year she said. It was the first time she had to wait to vote. She said it was ETERNAL. There were 12 people in front of her. TWELVE. She had to wait 15 whole minutes to vote. It was good she brought her book, huh?

    The publicist is a bit snarky this morning, isn’t she.

    How was the pie? Was it APPLE?

    1. Margaret says:

      After the big chad fiasco years ago and all that can go wrong with “missing” ballots and whatnot, you’d think people could trust computers since human beings make mistakes more often.