Tyrrell's Tidbits: A frustrating voting experience

Heather Tyrrell

I had quite the adventure when I traveled to the polls to cast my vote this week.

I haven’t voted since the last presidential election in 2008. Since that year, I’ve gotten married, changed my name and moved to a different residence.

Assuming my voter information would be updated when I received my new driver’s license this spring, I didn’t think I would encounter issues.

Smooth sailing wasn’t in the cards for me. I visited the Chester County website to see where I was supposed to vote since I had moved. You type in your address and the website tells you which polling place you’re supposed to go to.

I followed the address I was given, but my name wasn’t on the rolls there. The poll workers said I must be in the wrong place and told me to go to the polling place across the street from my house. Later that evening, I went to the next polling place and it was the same one I voted in during 2008.

I gave the poll workers my last name. The name again wasn’t on the voter rolls. I said, “I voted here in the last presidential election” and gave them my maiden name. That wasn’t in the records either.

It was starting to look like I wasn’t meant to vote that evening.

Poll workers gave me several numbers for Chester County Voter Services.

Using my name, birthdate and address, the person I talked to on the phone confirmed I was registered under my maiden name and gave me the address of the “correct” polling place. Another person I talked to on the phone said there was an error in my address in the records and that is also what may have led me to the wrong places.

During the phone call, I was still at wrong polling place #2, tired, very pregnant and hungry. I debated on just saying, “The heck with it,” and going home to start on dinner.

Giving up was not on the agenda for the night despite the inconveniences I was encountering. I drove to the third precinct in my area, hoping the third time would be the charm.

When I spoke to the poll workers I gave them my maiden name and...I was actually on the voting rolls there! Things were turning around. I was glad that I didn’t give up on voting earlier.

I guess there are a few things to look at or a few morals to this story. Yes, I should have checked with voter services before Election Day. On the other hand, I hate how bureaucracy makes being able to vote difficult at times. Voting is our right as Americans. Why couldn’t my information autmoatically be passed along when I got my marriage license or updated my license?

I understand why we have voting precincts, but I think it’s inconvenient that we can only vote at an assigned precinct. I wasn’t the only one having problems at the polls. Several people at various polls on Tuesday found out they were at the wrong place while I was there. One lady ahead of me had to drive to her previous poll to vote and that was at least 10 minutes away. I am glad my area’s precincts weren’t far apart.

Our voting system needs to be more efficient. All of this frustration came for me on Tuesday and it’s not even an election in which we were mandated to show a photo ID. Fortunately, I was without children and I was a young person that I could be mobile enough to make it to my correct polling place.

I also had to use a paper ballot which I thought was a bit archaic. I felt like I was taking a standardized test. I understand some machines malfunction like the one I saw on the news that wouldn’t let the voter choose Obama, but it’s 2012. If our government wants us to vote, we should be a bit more advanced than what we are now with our voting system and we should make voting more convenient.

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