St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church was the polling place where I was assigned to work on Election Day. Thirty people lined up in the dark before we opened at 6 a.m. I would spend the next 13 hours at the “Special Situations” table.
Voters were a mixture of El Encanto residents (Gabby Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, live there), University of Arizona students who hadn’t updated their license addresses, and a few raunchy guys.
Many Pima County residents (includes Tucson) vote by mail. Ninety-five of St. Mark’s 700 registered voters dropped off their mail-in ballots on Election Day; primarily, it seemed, to pick up “I Voted” stickers.
Early on, my co-worker and I discovered that many voters appeared as early-ballot recipients in the ledger. Which they hadn’t received, mistakenly shredded, or yes, one woman blamed her dog. They filled out provisional ballots at our “special” table. Those votes wouldn’t be counted that night.
“I wonder if it’s all Democrats” that didn’t receive their early ballots? asked one man, who waited patiently to cast his provisional. Another man insisted we were “suppressing” the vote. After a few explanations, he apologized.
I enjoyed watching the steady stream of humanity, some with babies, kids, or dogs. My favorite little group consisted of three generations of women happily voting for Hillary Clinton.
Another little scene involved a professional-looking woman of Eastern European heritage. A Tempe address appeared on her license. My co-worker tried to explain that she needed another I.D. with a Tucson address.
“I only want to vote for Hillary Clinton,” she declared. “I live in Tucson. I don’t understand this. I could do this job better than you!”
“Then do it,” said my co-worker, who started crying and walked away. I held on, with the help of a supervisor.
“I’m 53. Never voted before, but I’ve got to vote this time,” said another voter with an old license. He returned with a flyer addressed to “Registered Voters.” Not enough. “I have to vote for Trump,” he ranted, and finally came back with his lease. “I wasn’t gonna stay here but now I will because I need to vote.”
We thanked him profusely. We didn’t want him going around town complaining about rigged voting. He tried to hide a proud smile.
Seventy-seven percent of registered voters in our precinct cast ballots on Tuesday. Pima County went for Hillary Clinton 54 percent to 41 percent. Hillary won the popular vote across the nation. Today she commented about her “loss.”
I’ll keep looking for America.