I took advantage of “early voting” in North Carolina today, stopping by a nearby early polling place to participate in the great American privilege of casting my ballot, voting my conscience, contributing my voice to decisions being made by the people.
I count it a joy and a responsibility to vote. I don’t think, however, that the process should require so much help.
I arrived at the polling center, a small building in a public park, about 11:55 a.m., when you’d expect there to be a crowd lining up during their lunch hour.
I was the only voter there.
Nevertheless, I was met by no less than eight parking lot attenders and direction-givers, all clad in bright yellow vests. The compact lot appeared to have no more than 20-30 spaces at most, and there were exactly four cars parked there. Even so, a person at the entrance stopped my car and instructed me to follow the directions of the attendants, one of whom insisted that I wait for a truck to back out of a space and wheel into the vacant spot, even though most of the lot was empty.
Two more people wearing voter-official tags were standing outside: I couldn’t tell if they were supervising the superfluous parking lot attendents, or just taking a break to enjoy the sunny day.
Inside, several people were lined up by the door, each with a networked laptop computer. One of them looked up my records, printed an affidavit stating that I wished to vote, and asked me to sign it. She then witnessed my signature and pointed to a woman seated beside a plastic chain, who pointed another 10 feet beyond to a second table, where three more ladies were seated.
One of them pulled the appropriate ballot and passed it to the next lady, who wrote a number on it. The third lady just looked at me. Two additional poll workers stood five feet away, between two rows of five or six voting booths. They happily indicated that I could choose any booth I liked.
After marking my ballot, yet another lady pointed me to a ballot counting machine, and a final lady told me to insert the ballot in the slot.
I was voter number 39, after an hour of polling. That’s about two voters per poll worker per hour.
I think I’ve identified at least one public expense that could stand some serious budget-trimming, but alas, it wasn’t on the ballot.