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Learnings (and some unanswered questions) from the 2010 Election

By Kerri Provost

November 03, 2010

After voting, I felt dirty. I have always advocated voting one’s conscience. But what happens when one’s conscience is saying “I find nothing especially inspiring and promising about Candidate A, but Candidate B is too horrible to imagine, and Candidate C, while appealing in theory, has no shot because he did nothing to campaign”? This is not a matter of voting the lesser of two evils. That’s usually where I jump in to say we should simply not vote for evil. But this time, it seemed that in a few cases, the choice was between Blah, Evil, and Awesome-Not-a-Snowball’s-Chance-in-Hell. As it turns out, others are speaking about feeling less than satisfied with the process and outcome of yesterday’s election. If we can learn something from every experience, then here is what I learned:

1.If I purchase a five dollar item with my debit card, the clerk asks me for identification; but one does not need to show ID at every poll in Hartford. I will not be scammed out of pocket change, but citizens can be scammed out of a fair election due to potential fraud.

2.A candidate can be fired from his position with the Hartford Police Department one day before an election and still win. He can still win, even though he has had several complaints made against him over the years. How is this possible?

3.Some poll workers were shocked when asked how to write-in a candidate’s name. They were even shocked about this request in a district where a candidate who is on the ballot was fired the previous day from his position with the Hartford Police Department.

4.The candidate most serious about running against Robles failed to run a positive campaign. Given the accusations against him, this should have been cakewalk– spotlight her opponent’s problems, but then quickly build her own platform so that she is not seen as merely grinding an ax. Give voters reason to elect her in the primary. For a local election that does not require millions of dollars to run, this should have been fairly straightforward, given the serious allegations being made.

5.Somehow, nobody immediately notices that something like 48,000 ballots are missing. One would think this problem could be identified at a glance. Less extreme ballot shortages were reported in other towns and cities. There were also sticker shortages. Are we expected to trust these same people to count the votes?

6.The right of someone to wear a WWE t-shirt was disputed; forget First Amendment rights, forget that we have been inundated by ads and robocalls for weeks, somehow a t-shirt was deemed troublesome. Yet, in-your-face behavior by those standing outside of polling locations was not a hot topic. People can hoot and holler, trash the planet with ads doomed to hit the trash can almost immediately, and harass voters, but simply wearing something that more-or-less endorses a candidate is problematic. What exactly is the fear? If the worry is that we will expose who we plan to vote for, well, we’re already exposed. As voters in Connecticut, we lost all privacy the moment the voting booths were removed, as the current system affords none. People can glance at ballots as they are filled out on the tables; someone stands right next to the shredder machine as voters insert the ballots to be counted. If the concern is that we might influence someone at the last moment, then we need to remove people from in front of the polling places altogether, along with the signs that litter the landscape. The logic applied here seems inconsistent.

7.Various third party candidates are reported by the media as “Independent” even though they indeed have party affiliation, such as Green, Socialist, Connecticut for Lieberman, etc. Wonders if this is due to laziness, attempts at efficiency, or so that they do not have to recognize that there are Socialist and other “fringe” candidates in Connecticut.

8.Political signs can be secured over street signs. Nobody reads street signs or finds it dangerous enough to remove these obstructions.

9.Politicians — almost all of them — hate the planet, as is evidenced in the sheer amount of trash produced by campaign propaganda like signs and ads.

10.I always wind up in line of the most incompetent poll worker and am loathe to admit that the one thing my hometown could do right was supply voters with informed and pleasant poll workers. Yesterday, the worker was on her cell phone the entire time she was checking my information. She could not be bothered to tell me what my next step was after I checked in. It’s not like the past when after getting ID confirmed, we could simply walk into the booth. Now, we need to pick up a ballot from someone who is not in communication with the person checking ID. This would be simple if everything were well-marked or if all poll workers were personable and patient with people who wind up at wrong tables due to the lack of signage.

11.The same citizens who were completely on board with GWB’s “stay the course” pro-war line for almost two full terms could not be bothered to “stay the course” for two years while the nation tried to rebuild.

12.Money can make you a contender, but it does not necessarily purchase the election outright. Political experience actually has to be earned.

13.There are many competent, intelligent women in America. Few ran for office.

Reprinted with permission of Kerri Provost, author of the blog RealHartford. To view other stories on this topic, search RealHartford at http://www.realhartford.org/.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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