A vote-by-mail (mis)adventure.


Last week I voted an absentee ballot by mail for the first time. I encountered some obstacles as I gingerly jumped through the requisite hoops.

If you’ve never voted absentee, you may not know that you need a witness to sign for you, vowing that you are who you say you are. Since I can walk into the polls and vote without identification, this doesn’t make sense to me.

Though voting might be simple to accomplish under normal circumstances, there is nothing normal about living and voting with COVID rules. I decided that no matter how silly the regulations may seem, I will follow them precisely as this is important stuff and not a time to argue and make waves. So…I did a little candidate research, marked my ballot and lassoed a friendly neighbor.

Next I gave obsessive attention to the delivery of my prepared ballot. I wanted to be positively, absolutely 100% certain that my vote would arrive at its destination and be counted well before election day.

I sometimes refer to myself as “pragmatic Pat” and often that’s who I am. On other occasions, though, I go on a tangent that would seem weird to others but makes some sort of sense to me. I’m not sure but I think I’m wired that way. My mind diverges and I see numerous solutions.

For example, the ballot title would appear to indicate exactly what one must do with it: Mail it! But I’m thinking about that Joe Biden flag I have in my yard right under the mail carrier’s nose every day. What if she’s a Republican and maybe she’s fan of 45 and maybe she will do something devious with my ballot. Am I crazy? Maybe. I’ll blame it on my continuing isolation.

Next option is to drive to my nearest post office, go in and put the envelope in the slot. Job done. Ah, but my slightly warped brain takes another divergent detour.

The ultimate destination for votes is the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections. I’ll drive it over there. It’s only a 30+ minute drive each way. I have cabin fever. It will be good to get out. Ha!

I lost count after the fifth construction site I had to slow down/stop for on the way there. I drove around and through the parking lot three times before I found a parking space. Once inside, my envelope in hand, I felt as if I had arrived in Covid Hell. People were milling about and not safe distancing. Apparently an infinite number of voters could occupy the space. The one positive was that all did wear masks as far as I could tell.

A woman asked if she could assist me. I thanked her. She handed me a clipboard and asked me to fill in the top segment. And…you guessed it. I was to print my name, sign, date, put time of day, and check the block avowing that I was the person I claimed to be. Redundant? I would say so. Then she asked me to watch her drop the envelope into the box. I did appreciate that gesture.

I don’t imagine I need to tell you that I take voting seriously. It’s not only a right but a responsibility. I hope you feel the same way. A word or so of warning, though: DON’T OVER THINK IT. Just do it. The sooner the better.