I voted the other day and was struck that the experience was pretty impressive – and almost normal.
The impressive part: For all the claims about potential problems at the polls, I was impressed how organized everything was. I decided to vote that afternoon because the county website said there was only an eight-minute wait. (It ended up being more like five.)
I got checked in quickly and directed to the ballot station. A worker there handed me a ballot, reminded me there were choices on both sides, and pointed me to the voting booths. I waited a moment for one to open and then voted just like I do every election. I put my ballot through the scanner, got a “NO BULL / I VOTED” sticker and left.
The almost normal part: The hand sanitizer, the dots on the floor telling me where to stand, and the pen, which I got to keep.
Still, for all the brouhaha about problems, it felt pretty routine (for, um, voting in a pandemic).
To explore this, our student journalists are publishing a series of stories we’re calling “The Vote.” The stories document the routine and not-so routine aspects of voting in 2020. The stories explain how ballot counting works, why you’re getting a free pen, how they wipe down the voting booths, what it’s like to vote by mail and vote curbside and what Derek Bowens, Durham’s finicky director of elections, plays to wake up on Election Day.
It’s an election we won’t forget. And we get to keep the pen.
Above photo of Durham voting stations by Henry Haggart | The 9th Street Journal