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Stateside With Rosalea Barker: My First Vote

Stateside With Rosalea Barker

My First Vote

Stevie Wonder called to say he loves me and would I please vote for Obama. Scarlett Johansson left a voice-mail urging the same candidate choice, as did Kevin Lewis, former NY Giants linebacker. Inexplicably, another robocaller--several weeks ago--was Ron Paul. "Inexplicably" because, as a Decline to State voter in California, I couldn't vote in the Republicans' closed primary.

My TV was pretty much wall-to-wall Hillary, whose ads outnumbered Obama's 10 to one, not to mention she was on every TV show she could get on the night before and the morning of the election. No Republican candidates ran TV ads in the Dem-dominated East Bay media market. I heard nary a radio ad for any candidate on the station I listen to mid-morning, just the usual ads for debt consolidation and acne creams.

TV was chokka with Yes and No ads for state-wide propositions put on the ballot by voters opposed to a compact the governor had made with four Indian tribes regarding expansion of their gambling operations. To vote Yes would authorize them; a No vote would stop them going ahead.

In support of a ballot measure to raise taxes to pay for a new wing at the Oakland Children's Hospital, I got cards and letters from a patient, three physicians, and the staff. Two organizations having nothing whatsoever to do with anything sent me postcards telling me how to vote on everything. So what did I turn to?

Well, there were my trusty League of Women Voters explanations. There was the director of a tribal radio station in the north of California, who told me the new Indian gaming compacts didn't guarantee that the terms of the earlier compacts--under which revenue is shared with smaller tribes--would be upheld. And a local politician from a neighboring city urged me to support a tax measure for Oakland schools.

Needless to say, I'm glad the election is over. So much to think about! So many decisions!

But did my vote get counted? After connecting the dots on my ballot, using my own pen--none were provided--I put it back in the manila folder in which it had been handed to me and gave it back to a pollworker, who put it in what looked like a big garbage can. Since the machine didn't spit it back out, I can only assume it was acceptable. If anybody used a pen that wasn't black or blue, their vote might not have been counted.

The optical scan machine was in a no-go zone for voters, so I couldn't get to see if the votes it recorded were the ones I made, especially since there was no printout of what was recorded. The paper ballot itself is supposed to be the audit trail. A big red number on the front of the machine said 83, which I suppose meant my ballot was the 83rd one at that precinct on Tuesday morning. But I didn't actually see if the number went up from 82, because I didn't know to look.

Not that I'm paranoid or anything, but I figured one way I could check if my ballot was counted would be to vote for someone highly unlikely to get any votes in my precinct, so I asked for an American Independent Party ballot, as they were the only party besides the Democrats holding an open primary.

Clever clogs would then check the results posted on the Registrar of Voters' website to see if my guy got zero votes in my precinct. Not that that's foolproof, since others might have voted for him, but it was worth a try. Huh! The Alameda County ROV doesn't publish precinct totals, and the California Secretary of State's website only goes down to county level. No doubt I can get the precinct totals by calling the ROV, so let's see how that goes!




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