September 9, 2008

I wasn't really planning to vote, and I wasn't prepared.

It's another primary day in Madison, where primaries seem to come up every few weeks. Quite annoying. But I was walking to work today and my path took me right by the door to the church that is my polling place. I wanted to keep going, because I was completely unprepared, but something made me open the door. God? It was a church door. Guilt? The thought that the experience might be bloggable? The fear that there was some damned referendum question that too few people would be deciding? Maybe it was the sheer ease of going in, now that I was already there.

I walked down the long hallway. Someone somewhere was practicing on the church organ. The polling place was the pleasant first-floor library and not the downstairs gym that they use when they expect a crowd. I was greeted by 4 older women, who were sitting at 3 tables. They were all poll workers, and I was the only voter. It was 10:15 a.m., and I was the 10th voter of the day.

I took my big blue folder and white cardboard ballot over to one of the little open booths. This was a rather stressful situation, because the 4 women had nothing to do but watch me, and I had no idea what was on the ballot. I read it for a while and eventually decided I should just pick a party and choose the party line. It was a primary, so there was no competition between the parties, and within each party, there didn't seem to be any competition among the candidates. So what was this exercise all about?

I decided to pick a party and vote a straight party line, which meant that I drew a half-inch line with a magic marker and fed it into the scanner. I said goodbye to the poll workers, they thanked me for voting, and fortunately, I had the presence of mind to thank them for their work, and that gave the whole exercise meaning.

But perhaps you are wondering....

Althouse voted the straight party line for which party?
Democratic
Republican
Green
Libertarian
pollcode.com free polls

71 comments:

Bobr said...

I guess I should have waited a while to vote, LOL.

MadisonMan said...

I confess that I won't be voting today -- I didn't vote on the way to work, and I won't get home 'til long after the polls close.

I'm curious: what is on the ballot? Supreme Court candidates?

downtownlad said...

That's easy. It's not the libertarians, since you think they are racists. You voted Democratic, so you will not feel as guilty when you pull the lever for McCain.


I know you better than you know yourself.

peter hoh said...

How does one vote a straight party line in a primary? Perhaps if it were an uncontested primary, but otherwise, I don't see how one could do this.

Peter V. Bella said...

You left out "Who cares?".

Hey said...

seriously, how does one vote party line in a primary?

reader_iam said...

Wow! Voting as performance art!

Harwood said...

"But perhaps you are wondering...."

Perhaps not.

reader_iam said...

Oh, yes! In homeschool English today, we are studying interjections and the use of exclamation points! (Sheesh! Don't be silly! Of course I am cautioning against their overuse! That way lies hyperbole!)

Eric Muller said...

My vote: none of the above. You were cruelly neutral and voted for one of each.

reader_iam said...

To get back on topic: There's no point in wondering, I'll warrant, and I'll be shocked if you tell us.

SteveR said...

Straight party in a primary, sounds like an oxymoron. Then again I've only ever voted in two states, so what do I know.

bill said...

It's a meaningless exercise, so the Green party.

vbspurs said...

Losertarian. Not that you are, but they are.

Here is some info:

September 9, 2008, Partisan Primary Election

* Representative in Congress (if primary is necessary)
* State Senate Districts 16 & 26 (if primary is necessary)
* Representatives to State Assembly (if primary is necessary)
* Dane County District Attorney (if primary is necessary)
* Dane County Clerk (if primary is necessary)
* Dane County Treasurer (if primary is necessary)
* Dane County Register of Deeds (if primary is necessary)


Well, I'm guessing there isn't a Libertarian Register of Deeds, so changing it to Democrat.

Cheers,
Victoria

rhhardin said...

exclamation marks

Look at that ancient spider of the large species slowly poking its head out a hole in the ground at one of the corner intersections of the room. We are no longer in the narrative. It listens attentively for any rustling that may stir its mandibles in the air. Alas! we have now reached the real as regards the tarantula, and although an exclamation mark might be put at the end of every sentence, that is perhaps no reason for dispensing with them!

Lautreamont

Windbag said...

Oh, yes! In homeschool English today, we are studying interjections and the use of exclamation points!

In homeschool geometry today, we examined arguing from the contrapositive.

If Ann voted the Green party, we are doomed. If we are not doomed, Ann didn't vote the Green party.

Trooper York said...

Wisconsin Independence Party.

“Eat cheese or die.”

Brent said...

dtl,

That's easy. It's not the libertarians, since you think they are racists. You voted Democratic, so you will not feel as guilty when you pull the lever for McCain.

LOL!!


Hey Dude, you're sounding more sophisticated in your comments these days, a little less shrill
(of course, I'm a partisan on the other side, that's why I say "shrill").

I like it.

Ben (The Tiger) said...

Althouse is a liberal, aside from foreign policy.

I'd be stunned if she voted anything other than Democratic for a candidate not for the presidency. (Will also be quite surprised if she doesn't vote for McCain.)

former law student said...

the church that is my polling place

What happened to the separation of church and state? What if, as part of its mission, the church had filled its vestibule and hallways with "Choose Life" posters? Would they have to cover them up on Election Day? How would this be enforced without violating the church's First Amendment rights -- both free exercise and speech?

Zachary Paul Sire said...

And you thought being an undecided voter was annoying...now Althouse is an uninformed voter!

vbspurs said...

LOL, Zach!

Original Mike said...

I also was surprised when I walked past the school and the polling place sign was out. Couldn't stop. I will make the effort tonight if I knew what was on the ballot. Ann, is it in fact the case that there's really no competition going on: "It was a primary, so there was no competition between the parties, and within each party, there didn't seem to be any competition among the candidates. So what was this exercise all about?"

Zachary Paul Sire said...

Totally off topic but I know you are all concerned...Sullivan is back. Hope you have your barf bags ready:

"Thank you for your many emails of concern. For the record, I'm absolutely fine, nothing has changed with this blog, no one is pressuring me to write or not write anything, and I spent part of the day yesterday with my husband soaking up the last moments of summer together."

Yeah, well, that was yesterday. Today is 1/2 over and still this is his only post of the day?

vbspurs said...

What happened to the separation of church and state?

Hopefully, you all remember that I used to be a Clerk of a polling station before this year. I was asked that question during the Presidential Election of 2004.

The station was in Liberty City, and yes, our voting process took place inside a church hall. Though it wasn't a consecrated space, there were numerous pictures of Jesus on the walls.

The thing is, the locals didn't mind -- they were black, and I'm guessing, to a man and woman, Christian.

The guy who complained (he actually said, "I would like to lodge a formal complaint. There should be separation of Church and State") was a Hispanic white guy.

I was seated alone at my Clerk's desk, taking care of bureaucratic paperwork.

I thanked him for expressing his concern, and told him I'd note his complaint (I did, we're given a sheet to report any problems).

But I also mentioned that this Church hall was donated to Metro-Dade Elections for free by the church.

"I wish Kentucky Fried Chicken would've let us use their business for the election, but they declined."

I think I got my point across that we take what we can get, what is local, and what the residents are used to.

Cheers,
Victoria

Chip Ahoy said...

but something made me open the door. God?

Yes. That was Himself. He compelled you to vote straight down a party line because that's the way He rolls.

john said...

I decided to pick a party and vote a straight party line ..

Doesn't Madison have a gay party line?

Smilin' Jack said...

...I had no idea what was on the ballot. I read it for a while and eventually decided I should just pick a party and choose the party line.

It's reassuring to know that the fate of our democracy is in the hands of voters who take their responsibilities so seriously.

...they thanked me for voting, and fortunately, I had the presence of mind to thank them for their work, and that gave the whole exercise meaning.

Yes, that sounds very fortunate. And meaningful.

Ann Althouse said...

I added a link to an earlier post where I commented on the fact that it's a church.

The room where I voted has a big wall hanging that says "More light shall break forth from out God's word."

ABP said...

Well, since we are invited to psychoanalyze Anne today...

I think Anne really wants to be a liberal, but the dang facts keep getting in her way. Therefore, in an election without consequences she was free to go with her heart, which means Democrat.

Chip Ahoy said...

Separation of Church and State is an idea expressed by Thomas Jefferson *genuflects* a letter he wrote to a group of Baptists in which he refers to a "wall" created by the First Amendment. The phrase in the First Amendment Jefferson referd to is this:

"...make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,"

It's not codified in the U.S. Constitution or Bill or Rights. It's a idea that took hold early on and is widely misunderstood today. Presently it's an idea interpreted to mean an absolute separation of anything having to do with religion and any and every tiny thing having to do with political life. Nothing could be further from the truth, and you can see for yourself this differs considerably from the phrase Jefferson pointed to. Religion is alive and well in the hearts of practicing politicians, and politics is doing very well, thank you, in the minds of practicing religionists. The two endevours are thoroughly blended and inform one another within the hearts and minds of individuals that practice them.

This idea, a good one at that, was seized upon early on because the framers knew the importance of keeping political and religious positions separated. So there could be no, say, Bishop of Baltimore who was also Senator, and therefore weilded too broad a spectrum of power. The idea as expressed by Jefferson has been broadly copied, save for the most backward of governments.

End pedantry. Bloody wow. Typed that whole thing and nothing got underlined in red. * buffs nails on shirt *

vbspurs said...

Therefore, in an election without consequences she was free to go with her heart, which means Democrat.

I agree.

And lest anyone think that others do not vote blindly, without having had the chance to pore over the positions taken by each Recorder of Deeds, I too have voted blindly.

Sometimes, when judges' names appear of which I really don't know a thing about, I vote for the challenger, not the incumbent.

Vote the bums out, as Ann said.

UWS guy said...

To further the analysis: Ann votes democrat when it doesn't matter in an effort to make herself feel like she is still a young radical! In truth, she's now a stodgy old republican even though that's where all the unreconstructed apratheid voters went 40 years ago.

MadisonMan said...

I wish Kentucky Fried Chicken would've let us use their business for the election, but they declined.

Greasy ballots would result. Talk about a slippery slope.

Theo Boehm said...

Someone somewhere was practicing on the church organ.

I hope it was a proper tracker action pipe organ tuned in Werckmeister III, Kirnberger, or perhaps Valotti temperament, and not some miserable electronic "organ."

If it had been me, and it was a good instrument well-played, I would have drifted into the main church or wherever the organ is located, and forgotten all about the election.

And I wouldn't mind too much if it were a tolerable electric or pneumatic action instrument tuned in equal temperament, but only if the organist was really good.

Election? What election? The organist is playing Buxtehude! Shut up and listen!

vbspurs said...

Ann votes democrat when it doesn't matter in an effort to make herself feel like she is still a young radical!

Or because in local politics, Democrats do a better job than Republicans?

I have voted for any number of Democrats, like Kathy Fernandez-Rundle, our DA.

Of course, for mayor I always vote Republican. Like Ann, you give the other guys a chance, but when it's about really running the show, you can't trust that to bleeding hearts. They'll tax you out of heart and home.

Theo Boehm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
George said...

Everyone is welcome in church, Ann.

Even lawyers.

And people who have an unhealthy interest in the sex lives of bugs.

And that organ music can be pretty far-out sometimes, too.

Think of it as medieval rock 'n' roll. Like Emerson, Lake, and Palmer.

Ann Althouse said...

Well, it doesn't bother me. It's easy for me to walk into a church, but think of someone who is very religious and not Christian. They might actually have a religious reason for not wanting to enter a church. And of course, some staunch atheists get riled up. I'm just surprised they do it this way in Madison.

David said...

What I think is ironic is not just that your polling place is a church -- but a UCC congregation!! Same denomination of Obama and Jeremiah Wright. ;)

Trooper York said...

Well set up the polling place where all the atheists meet on a Sunday morning.

Starbucks.

Trooper York said...

What's really funny is that Theo enjoys playing with his organ so much that he posted the same comment twice.

Rock on dude.

Remember Ernie.

Paddy O. said...

I've never voted in a church. I'm trying to think of the polling places I've been in over the last fifteen years since I was able to vote.

Some were in a coffee shop with my absentee ballot while I was away at college, so that doesn't count.

My polling place for the last few years has been in a junior high school library. What a way to show kids civic responsibility.

Before that I voted in a local community center for a year or two.

And before that it was in people's garages.

Quite civil of those homeowners, I'd say.

People vote where space has been offered. If they don't like to vote in a particular place, maybe they should offer an alternative rather than just complaining that "someone" should find "somewhere" else.

Issob Morocco said...

What a cruel mistress Neutrality is!

UWS guy said...

Christopher Hitchens favorite poet and his favorite poem.

"
Church Going

Once I am sure there's nothing going on
I step inside, letting the door thud shut.
Another church: matting, seats, and stone,
And little books; sprawlings of flowers, cut
For Sunday, brownish now; some brass and stuff
Up at the holy end; the small neat organ;
And a tense, musty, unignorable silence,
Brewed God knows how long. Hatless, I take off
My cycle-clips in awkward reverence,

Move forward, run my hand around the font.
From where I stand, the roof looks almost new-
Cleaned or restored? Someone would know: I don't.
Mounting the lectern, I peruse a few
Hectoring large-scale verses, and pronounce
"Here endeth" much more loudly than I'd meant.
The echoes snigger briefly. Back at the door
I sign the book, donate an Irish sixpence,
Reflect the place was not worth stopping for.

Yet stop I did: in fact I often do,
And always end much at a loss like this,
Wondering what to look for; wondering, too,
When churches fall completely out of use
What we shall turn them into, if we shall keep
A few cathedrals chronically on show,
Their parchment, plate, and pyx in locked cases,
And let the rest rent-free to rain and sheep.
Shall we avoid them as unlucky places?

Or, after dark, will dubious women come
To make their children touch a particular stone;
Pick simples for a cancer; or on some
Advised night see walking a dead one?
Power of some sort or other will go on
In games, in riddles, seemingly at random;
But superstition, like belief, must die,
And what remains when disbelief has gone?
Grass, weedy pavement, brambles, buttress, sky,

A shape less recognizable each week,
A purpose more obscure. I wonder who
Will be the last, the very last, to seek
This place for what it was; one of the crew
That tap and jot and know what rood-lofts were?
Some ruin-bibber, randy for antique,
Or Christmas-addict, counting on a whiff
Of gown-and-bands and organ-pipes and myrrh?
Or will he be my representative,

Bored, uninformed, knowing the ghostly silt
Dispersed, yet tending to this cross of ground
Through suburb scrub because it held unspilt
So long and equably what since is found
Only in separation - marriage, and birth,
And death, and thoughts of these - for whom was built
This special shell? For, though I've no idea
What this accoutred frowsty barn is worth,
It pleases me to stand in silence here;

A serious house on serious earth it is,
In whose blent air all our compulsions meet,
Are recognised, and robed as destinies.
And that much never can be obsolete,
Since someone will forever be surprising
A hunger in himself to be more serious,
And gravitating with it to this ground,
Which, he once heard, was proper to grow wise in,
If only that so many dead lie round.


Philip Larkin

Windbag said...

My voting place is a school. What do stupid people do, when faced with the horror of having to enter a house of education? Do they have a constitutional right not to be forced to view books, signs that might tempt them to read, badly scribbled art by fourth-graders, or anything else associated with education?

We're homeschoolers, so perhaps I can make a case that being forced to enter a public school is an infringement on my rights.

Using a church as a polling place is not a church-state issue.

Hazy Dave said...

In a primary election in Wisconsin, I believe you can't vote in more than one party's primary, so if you don't vote "straight party", your ballot is spoiled...

Reading the end of paragraph three again, that appears to be what Ann is saying, too. And most of the races are uncontested within the Party. (And since it's Madison, the Democrat automatically gets elected in the general election. This is Democracy!)

I imagine most tax-exempt organizations would be pleased to offer underutilized space to host a local election site. And people who object to entering the space can suck it up.

MadisonMan said...

Places I've voted: An elementary school (that I attended for grades K-4); a college dormitory; a Fire Station; a library; a former school (my favorite -- there were three polling places that were closer to my house); and for the past 10 years, a church school basement.

It astounds me that anyone thinks of where they are voting as anything other than a polling place on Election Day. The purpose served the other 360+ days of the year is pretty irrelevant.

Alex said...

I don't have a problem with Ann voting locally for Democrats and voting McCain/Palin in November. I'm confident she'll make the correct choice.

Synova said...

There was a thing going here in New Mexico about taking some University position and changing it from appointments by the governor to elected positions.

There's a reason we've got a representative democracy and frankly it bothers me when we're electing University chairs (or whatevertheheck) or judges or treasurers or any of the countless number of positions that I am absolutely not qualified to do the hiring for.

Oh, sure, for any particular one of those I could read up on the people and probably chose a reasonably good person... but all of them?

No way.

I think that (for example) people should be able to remove a judge who gets a reputation for bad behavior or rulings, but hire him or her? On what grounds? They're Democrat or Republican? What does political affiliation have to do with the suitability of a person to sit on the bench?

I don't care for Gov. Richardson but I trust him more to hire a judge or person to sit on some University committee than people who just randomly fill out ballots, vote for whomever has the right letter after their name, or can get more than 10 people to show up to cast a ballot. That's his JOB. Sheesh.

Theo Boehm said...

Hey, Trooper! Problem fixed. Redundant organ post removed. Stoopid slooooow network trubble.

Speaking of redundant organs....

Naw...maybe I won't. Go ahead and make your own jokes ;->

Peter V. Bella said...

former law student said...
the church that is my polling place

What happened to the separation of church and state?



I think about that everytime I see one of the political ministers who holds elective office or runsfor elective office.

Zaplito said...

"What happened to the separation of church and state? What if, as part of its mission, the church had filled its vestibule and hallways with "Choose Life" posters? Would they have to cover them up on Election Day? How would this be enforced without violating the church's First Amendment rights -- both free exercise and speech?"

Gees, I'm glad I live in Kansas where just about every polling place seems to be in a church. If you don't want to vote in a church you can vote at one of the county election sites prior to election day or vote by mail.

BTW--when infidels enter to vote we tackle them and force them to convert to Christianity. It's an old trick we learned from the Muslims who have polling places in their mosques.

Peter V. Bella said...

In Chicago, when we were a real city, instead of an extension of the burbs, polling places used to be in taverns. They outlawed that for some reason. Bunch of prudes.

A man cannot even get a drink, a sndwich, and a ballot anymore.

vbspurs said...

They might actually have a religious reason for not wanting to enter a church.

That's not a problem. The ADA requires that all handicapped individuals in the US be catered to. The voter pulls up to the station, and hails the deputy with the vest, in charge of going around the station looking for these types of voters. By law, he cannot ask why the person is requesting to vote outside.

You then can bring out the register for them to sign, and then either bring out the ballot, wait discretely whilst they finish voting, and them have a person put it inside the ballot box.

What I personally mind is that an atheist or two would subvert the whole process, when there are perfectly adequate alternatives.

You know the kind of thing -- a department store calling it Winterfest instead of Christmas because it might offend a slight portion of the public.

That's the dictatorship of the few, and undemocratic.

Cheers,
Victoria

Original Mike said...

So, there's no referenda on the ballot, right?

bearbee said...

Voted Democratic
Six Democratic candidates and no Republicans will appear on the ballot for the 81st Assembly district, which includes Madison, and the winner of the primary will be the district’s new representative.

2 Libertarians running in the 3rd District including nutjob Kevin Barrett.

Revenant said...

What happened to the separation of church and state?

Where is there a church/state separation problem here? It isn't like the church is running the election or anything.

What if, as part of its mission, the church had filled its vestibule and hallways with "Choose Life" posters? Would they have to cover them up on Election Day?

I'm pretty sure they wouldn't, since that's not any kind of political endorsement. I vote at a school, and they don't feel the need to cover up their pro-education posters.

MadisonMan said...

The 81st Assembly district is, if I'm remembering things correctly, on the north side of Madison. Not near the University.

Revenant said...

They might actually have a religious reason for not wanting to enter a church.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the actual polling location isn't inside the church itself, is it? In the area I grew up in, polling places were routinely set up in (among other places) churches, but never in the area actually used for worship. Most churches have other large rooms used for social events, Sunday school, etc; one of those would be used for the polling.

I don't see a legitimate religious objection to entering a room which happens to be OWNED by Christians but is not actually religiously oriented. That sounds like simple bigotry. My previous polling location was, weirdly enough, the garage of a house a block up the street. Suppose that house had been owned by Jews? Could I have objected on the grounds that I refuse to set foot in a Jew's house? I doubt it.

Original Mike said...

You're right, MM.

http://www.legis.state.wi.us/ltsb/redistricting/Maps/ad81.pdf

Darn. I can't vote for old Kevin.

blake said...

Has no one here voted in a garage? Not a commercial one, I mean a neighbor's garage! I've done that many times.

I voted for straight Green party.

If it doesn't matter, why not?

paul a'barge said...

Democrat.

Palladian said...

You voted straight SILLY party.

Synova said...

Rev is right. A church wouldn't set up polling in the worship area or sanctuary. Not if they could help it.

I don't see the problem.

But apparently some people do as the local community center has a nice sign up prohibiting smoking, alcohol or religious activities on the premises. Frankly, I think they're violating constitutional protections by doing so but who's going to have the funds to take it to court?

I mean... anyone in the community can rent the hall *except* for wiccans getting married? Really?

As for voting without undue influence... when we've heard about actual problems it hasn't been at churches, it's been at *schools*.

Eli Blake said...

I have to agree with those who asked above, how do you vote a straight party line in a primary?

And, I thought our primary was late (it was last week.) I believe that September primaries should be banned, it's essentially an incumbent-protection scheme when its that late.

Stupe said...

Hey Everyone: Remember the flaky blogger who forgot the blog that time forgot.....well, someone else is doing it now:

http://www.paleofuture.com/

Or, is that different, than what Ms. Flake had going, but abruptly halted, for reasons that are known to only her ?????

Maxine Weiss said...

Please watch this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Ghzomm15yE

PWS said...

I just voted in Wisconsin and simply marking your party preference at the top of the ballot, without doing more, doesn't really do anything. It's not even required.

The ballot says, "You must vote for individuals."

vbspurs said...

It's not even required.

So wait, PWS, you mean Professor Althouse's vote probably didn't count?

Laika's Last Woof said...

At first I went all Vizzini-finding-the-poison on this question ... but I figured you probably didn't vote just to give us a brainteaser, so I went with Republican for the simple reason that your locale is liberal.

Where you live the Republicans are likely to be moderates and the Democrats radical liberals. You're a moderate, with some conservative and some liberal positions, so my guess is Republican.

If you lived in a very conservative area I would've guessed Democrat.

The other parties are too radical for you -- and I don't think you lodged a protest vote because it was your nagging conscience that drew you into the polling place. You don't really want either the Libertarians or Greens to win, so voting for either would be out of alignment with your conscientious motivation to vote.

(I haven't peeked at the answer yet -- don't even know if the answer is up yet.)