October 23, 2008

I voted - but it wasn't easy getting a ballot

Unbelievable is the only way to describe the way the absentee ballot system runs in Grand Blanc Township, near Flint, Michigan.

I'm heading out of town and originally expected to return the day before the election.

My daughter will soon get a biopsy so I want to extend my trip - by days and places - and spend some time with her.

It is a last minute decision, so I stopped by my local government office to get an absentee ballot. That's when the unbelievable part started.

I needed the paper ballot now, not mailed to me at the house I wouldn't be at until after the election. I also didn't want it mailed to a hotel.

Instead, I was told that legally it was impossible to give me a ballot now.

As I pressed the issue, I was told that it would be too confusing to do it now but I could call the next day, make an appointment and come in to get a ballot. And no, I couldn't tell her what time I was coming the next day, I had to call the next day.

By the time, I reached my car I was fuming. First call went to the county election department - very helpful. She led me to the state elections department. In between, a search of regulations and court rulings.

The county and state were sure I had heard wrong and the state even called the township to clarify.

I got my ballot. It took a while - long enough for one official to have a long discussion with me about how busy they are and can't really provide a ballot to every person who wants one on their time.

A steady stream of people came in and out during the two hours I was there. Each filled out the required absentee ballot request and patiently nodded when told the ballot would be mailed to them. Guess we have money to burn in my local government as we certainly wouldn't want to save on postage by handing them a ballot.

So a future fight, on another day I blackened the holes; let's see if it gets counted.
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