I had heard about things like "polling lines" before, I had just never actually encountered them. I pulled into the Baptist church parking lot to cast my vote and saw the line of people snaking out the door. (As an aside, let me say that nothing reiterates the philosophy of 'Separation of Church and State' better than a smiling portrait of Jesus looking benevolently down on you as you try to figure out the new electronic voting machines. These things make make MP3 players look easy to operate. It's nice to know that the state that won the Constitutional right to hang stone tablets (!) of the Ten Commandments in criminal courthouses hasn't given up on the idea of making sinners (those that vote Democratic) repent.)
Back to the story, though. So, I parked, got out of my car, and wandered over to the line, trying my best to avoid all of the volunteers encouraging everyone to, "VOTE KINKY!" I asked some of the people in line how long they had been waiting. My heart sank when I heard answers like, "2 1/2 hours" or, "I don't know. I sat down and rested in some of the pews for a while, then I got up, now I'm here. I don't know how long I've been here." A woman 32 weeks pregnant joked that her kid started out as a zygote when she started waiting to vote. It was that bad.
I had to weasel my way into the church to talk to the Head Voting Clerk. HVC was clearly having a bad day. His polling station only had 10 new voting machines for the entire zip code. Each zip code, or voting district in this circumstance, only had one polling location. There are 28,661 people in my voting district. If I had to estimate, I would say that approximately 85% of those were waiting to use those 10 machines. The HVC was sweating profusely and trying to quell the dissension among the angry voters. He wasn't too happy when I finally got a chance to talk to him and told him that I needed to fill out a Change of Address form.
I registered to vote in Texas when I lived at my parents' house. I never changed it because I'm lazy and I wasn't really sure if I was going to stay in my apartment very long. I thought I could just go to any district and vote. HA! Little did I know. The HVC informed me that I could fill out a nice little green form and then vote next year.
Good thing I researched the Texas voting procedures before I went church. I told him that I'd be happy to fill out the nice little green form and then he could give me my provisional ballot. "Ahh...yes," he murmed, "You CAN fill out a provisional ballot on voting day. No one ever does that." With a raised eyebrow and a cyncial expression, I thought, "Well, that's probably because you don't tell them about it because it makes your job harder. Now leave me in peace do to my patriotic duty before I consider trying to hack into your voting database and unanimously elect Chris Bell."
Provisional ballots are the craziest idea in voting since the Electoral College. Basically, because I changed my official place of residence without sufficient notice to the Secretary of State, I got a, "We'll count your vote if we feel like it" ballot, better known as a Provisional Ballot. The notice I received as I walked out the door assured me (in English and Vietnamese, but not Spanish) that, "A determination whether your ballot will be counted will be made by the early voting ballot board after the election. The notice will be mailed to you no later than the 10th day after the local canvass which is scheduled between 8 and 11 days after the election."
So I should find out whether or not my vote was counted between the 18th and the 21st day after I voted, or when the cow jumps over the moon and the next dawning of the Age of Aqarius draw near, whichever comes first.
This state rocks. The ironic thing is that I'll actually get to find out whether or not my vote was counted whereas everyone else that waited in line for the chance to spin the little wheels on the new voting machines will just have to wonder.