Just When I Thought I Was Done Filling Bubbles


Went to vote after work yesterday because every vote counts, and it’s very important everybody performs his/her civic duties. I wasn’t familiar with the polling place, but just followed where everybody was going. Found the line for our precinct and reported our street name, number, and my name. The lady at the table gave me the ballot and informed me that there were two sides. I looked at it – it had bubbles next to questions that we’re supposed to fill out – PLEASE FILL IN THE CIRCLES COMPLETELY. I hate those. I guess they’re easier to recount.
I walked over to one of the booths, which were divided from each other by a wall like the competitors on Final Jeopardy. Maybe they had problems with people getting caught in the curtains or someone tried to recalibrate the movement of the levers. Actually, I didn’t mind pretending I was on Final Jeopardy, and I was sure there were very few dishonest tall guys who would copy their neighbors’ votes on election day. The poll-workers had kindly posted an instruction sheet in front of each writing surface. It said:

Please use only the pencil provided. (I looked down – a felt tip marker.)

When you finish filling out the ballot, please insert it in the secrecy sleeve… (“Secrecy sleeve”? Is it an envelope? I looked around inside the little 3-sided booth, stepped away from it a little and checked the booth from the outside, then checked the writing surface to see if there was a secret mechanism to lift it up for storage of the secrecy sleeve… No secrecy sleeves.)

this way. (What way?)

“Okay, I’ll fill this out, and worry about where to submit it later,” I said to myself.

I slowly filled out those bubbles. I’m sure those poll-workers were about to check on me to make sure I was still breathing. When I was done, I took my ballot to the poll-workers at the other end of the line. “Please first check out over there,” the friendly woman said to me.

“What do you mean check out? What’s over here?”

“Oh, I just need you to give me your address and name again.”

I gave her the information, and she checked off a box next to my name. But…why? Were they afraid I would change my identity on my way out? But anyway I was now eligible to turn in my ballot. A sign on a box with a slot said, “Please insert face down.”

Which face? I held on to my two-sided ballot. Oh, the face opposite to the ballot questions. I would’ve guessed that. By the way, was the poll-worker allowed to see that I voted yes on question 1?

I’m sure the state has cut psychological research budget, and we were actually subjects for somebody’s Ph.D. thesis on anxiety caused by confusing instructions.


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