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Bird's Blog

Poetry, musings, observations, commentary, rants, confessions...and who knows what else!

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Location: San Francisco Bay Area

Teacher, writer, poet, grandmother, lover, wine-drinker, chocolate eater, beach comber, hiker, traveler, Giants fan, San Franciscan. All work on this blog is copyrighted material.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Only in America: Election Day Absurdity

Nice long walk on the coast this morning with my buddy, Karen, followed by lunch. My friend tells me the most bizarre story about the recently come-and-gone Election Day.

Like they’ve done numerous times before, Karen and her husband show up together at their polling place (where they’ve been voting for decades). The voting official checks them in and then announces loudly throughout the room, “We’ve got a Repub and a Green!” Amazing, isn’t it – Greens and Repubs can cohabitate, though frankly, I don’t think Karen’s husband is a true Republican – but I digress – the point here is – WTF is the official doing yelling out political affiliations?

But this, it turns out, is the minor transgression.

Wait for it.

Here it comes – the MAJOR transgression:

They have no more Green voting ballots in English.

They offer Karen one in Spanish.

“Do you have one in Italian?” her husband (who surely must have had a twinkle in his eye and a wry look on his face) asks. “She speaks Italian.” Yes, Karen does speak Italian – it’s her second language – she’s been studying it for several years.

Of course they don’t have Green ballots in Italian. They only have ‘em in Spanish – they’ve run out of ‘em in English, even though in our county, the Green party is dominated by Caucasians – native English-speakers most of ‘em. I’m not aware that the Spanish-speaking community registers Green in a big way in any part of the country.

Having no other immediate option, Karen votes with the Spanish ballot (at least it wasn’t Chinese, she tells me). Now Karen is the type of person who knows her vote before she enters the polling place, but what if she wasn’t sure? What if she needed to reread the material on the ballot again? And then, as Karen reminds me, there’s the county supervisors section – where you can pick seven. What if you don’t know the word “seven” in Spanish? If you mark nine, is your ballot invalid? Fortunately, Karen knows the word “siente.”

Now Karen, as she says, isn’t a “Lou Dobbs-wall-up-the-border-and-round-‘em-all-up and-send-‘em-all-back” kind of gal. She’s a Green, and in some regards though not all, more liberal than I – but this was too much. Her polling place was not able to offer a Green ballot in English to a native-born citizen of the U.S.of A whose first language is English. She was stunned. I am stunned. Are you stunned?

When she finished voting in Spanish, the polling officials offered her the little sticker which reads, “I Voted” in two different languages: English and Spanish. She declined.

She’s reporting this oddity (and let’s hope it’s a rare one) to the County Election Committee and I suggested she let the Green Party know as well. I’ve been reading too many conspiracy theories of late – but what a great way to limit the Green vote even more – by producing more Spanish than English Green ballots.

I don’t have a problem with a multi-lingual ballot – but when a native, English-speaking citizen can’t get a ballot in English – now that’s an absurdity that can happen only in America.

I know the far-right conservatives will come out in droves and say – serves you liberals right – but I don’t think this is a problem created by liberals or liberal thinking. And I don’t think putting a bill through the House and Senate that makes English the official language is the answer to this problem. I’m not sure why this problem exists. But I think we need to find out.


Blogger Jack K. said...

Fucking-A I'm stunned. Not only that, I am more than a little bit pissed off. WTF did I spend that much time serving my country to have such a debacle occur?

Only in America. You gott love it.

I'm glad Karen was able to cast her ballot. I'm glad that they even had ballots printed in Spanish. I'm pissed that they didn't have ballots in English.

I guess this response can be expected after having consumed one Black Russian, one third bottle of Andretti Merlot 2001, and a frozen Margarita. Nonetheless, I am a bit miffed by it all.

Tomorrow, after a good nights sleep I may come back and trash all of this. lol.

June 14, 2006 7:52 PM  
Blogger CROAK said...

I am totally stunned by
1) Having someone yell out the voting intentions at a polling booth - (this would not happen in Aust as we are all given the same ticket and just have our names marked off a general electoral list)
2) It wasn't in English. Like you say I am liberal more than most and I find this disgusting in an English speaking nation that the ballot was not in English.
Who would have thought.

So it is not a 'given' that English is the official language of USA? Wow! Have to watch what happens!

June 14, 2006 9:47 PM  
Blogger Bird said...

oh dear jack!

don't come back and delete your comment- it's the best!

partying a bit were you last night,eh?

so tell me, how was the merlot?

typically, the political affiliation is not broadcast - this was a really bizarre voting experience.

i think it is a "given" that English is the standard language of the land - absolutely. but something went awry here.

June 15, 2006 7:39 AM  
Blogger K9 said...

/bark bark bark

i hate american politics with the intensity of a thousand suns. we tried to vote green here in georgia second clinton round and they threw every green ballot out (!) because of some "irregularity"....we knew it would never fly but were trying to build on the party...though many a marxist agenda lay hidden in the environmental movement....that's not to impugne (sp?) the greens it's just how the infiltration scheme works.

im actually a southerrn agrarian constitutionalist and there is no one who represents me.

better bone up on my espanol although i am good to get by already. had to be to to live in el norte.


June 15, 2006 7:57 AM  
Blogger Jack K. said...

The Merlot was fan-flipping-tastic.

It was one of those serendipitous events that should happen more.

Our neighbor from across the corner is preparing for the wedding of their youngest son. My wife has been assisting. Yesterday they were baking muffins, some of which are reposing in our freezer until the appointed time. We also agreed to let her use our large cooler to put things in while she defrosts her freezer.

She brought another batch of goodies for our freezer and to pick up the cooler. I had a bottle of Menage a Trois open and wanted her to taste it. She agreed. There were only two servings left so the two ladies enjoyed it and I suffered through it with the Black Russian. Then I opened the Andretti. It was absolutely amazing. We had picked up the bottle from the winery on our last trip to Napa.

As we were getting close to the end of the Andretti, her husband came home. He was not in a good mood. I volunteered to take the cooler with a six-pack of Michelob Amber Bock LIte over to their house. A guy has got to unwind somehow. We then went to a local Mexican restaurant for a Margarita and dinner.

A great evening. I even got to comment on a couple of blogs.

Life is good. Woot, woot, woot.

June 15, 2006 8:03 AM  
Blogger Bird said...

just as i suspected, jack, we bloggers know how to party - whether planned or spur of the moment. good job! you are living well!

K9 - whoa, for a moment, i was thinking, "K9 a GREEN? How did i miss that?" hahaha.

the southern agrarian party of constitutionalists. i'm impressed. of course you can't be pigeon-holed. (like that bird pun there - hahaha - i do. obviously.)

i'm beginning to think that politics is far too much like religion - when its organized, horrible things occur in its name. of course, the alternative to organized politics is anarchy - which actually isnt really unorganized. and i'm not talking about those idiotic, young black anarchists who show up at every peaceful demonstration in San Francisco. they wear black, but they are all white, middle-class, and living off their mommies and daddies whilst complaining about the very system which enables them to live off their folks' while railing against the establishment. whoa - weren't folks saying that about the hippies? argh. i have seen the enemy and it is me.

at any rate,what i mean to say is - politics is killing us.

well - that was a ramble - don't know where that all came from -except of course that artic terns have tangential (sp) flight patterns during the spring and summer months.


June 15, 2006 9:19 AM  
Blogger Bird said...

ARGH - death to word verification.

i have turned it off!

i reserve the right to turn it back on if spammers appear in droves.

June 15, 2006 9:29 AM  
Blogger Jack K. said...

flapping and swooshing allow you to do whatever you damn well please on your blog.

I have learned to copy my comments prior to hitting the preview button. The techies at blogspot have learned how to make the word verification process a challenge at times. I have lost comments in the process because they want me to re-verify and then don't show the letters to by typed. Arrrrgh, arrrrgh.

June 15, 2006 1:37 PM  
Blogger Jack K. said...

Yeah I agree about the folks who are willing to live off of the "fat" of the land and complain about the "fat" of the land. Arrrgh, arrrgh.

June 15, 2006 1:38 PM  
Blogger schaumi said...


i would think this funny if it wasn't actually outrageous. maybe it is a good sign though. maybe so many folks voted green they ran out of ballots.

June 18, 2006 3:50 AM  
Blogger disguised said...

I can say that I've definitely had the old folks at the polling booth pull out the say, "oh, you're a green are you?" Hand me my ballot, give me the evil eye, and then say, "You'll change your mind when you get older." Buncha bull>>>>


There were only two drinks left in a bottle of menage a tois? How awful is that?

June 20, 2006 11:31 PM  
Blogger CROAK said...

Can you explain how the polling booth people know which way you vote in America? I am a bit confused...

June 22, 2006 10:30 PM  

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