I have written in this blog about my frustrations and criticisms of our political system especially around the oppressive information overload that forms the the surreal circus of the presidential elections. But living in Alameda I realized that I will have a small town election experience for the first time in my life. Prior to 2012 I have voted in Chicago, Santa Barbara, Palo Alto and Oakland, all relatively large cities with busy polling stations, campaign staff from the representative parties handing out leaflets indifferent poll workers and, of course, pollsters ready to ask for whom I had voted.
But I knew the experience, for better or worse, would be different in Alameda though I wasn’t sure just how. So I packed up my frustrations and decided to celebrate this election day as a new experience. I rose early, took a nice hot shower and brought my dog along for the trip. The Tuesday morning streets were characteristically sparse with people as we set out to find the polling station.
Now anyone that knows me knows that I have a lousy sense of direction. I acknowledge this. So I checked the little map on the election brochure, checked google maps and went to the polling place listed on the election brochure as 404 Haven Street Garage.
Approaching the address on my carefully planned route I began to lose faith in the accuracy of my navigation as I walked down the block looking for the location. Of course I was looking for the signs I am accustomed to seeing which would indicate that I was nearing the right place. But there were no crowds and few visible signs until I was about two doors down from the address. This looked like just another street with little one story residences lining both sides of the street. Finally arriving there I saw a one care garage with a line of about 5 people moving leisurely to the table where the poll workers checked the voters against the voting rolls and processed their ballots. I met one of my neighbors and chatted briefly. And when we left there was no one there to ask any questions as to how I voted just as there had been no campaign staff handing out last minute propanganda for their candidate.
Like a northern California version of Mayberry, I was treated to an extremely mellow voting experience. None of the drama to which I had become accustomed. So my buddy Clyde and I returned home the sun at our backs planning to watch the election returns coverage which would begin at about 3PM local time with the closing of the polls on the east coast. Since it was now only 8AM we went to the newly opened little deli in the local convenience store and had a coffee and a bagel, a fitting conclusion to our morning.