Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Voting on Crutches and on Facebook

I had a chance today to test out handicapped voting.  Unintentionally.

On the way to work this morning, I managed to sprain my ankle.  At this hour of blogging my ankle is taped up and I am icing it.  I'm using a clamshell support and walking with crutches. The last time I had to walk with crutches, I was 10 years old.  Lucky me.  At least I can put some weight on the foot.  Thank heavens, I can't complain.

So getting to the polling place, usually a pleasant walk from my house, suddenly turned into a logistical planning session.

Now, in saying this, I am well aware there are people who do this kind of thing each and every day, some of them doing it every day of my lives.  So I don't want to make a big deal out of this (as in "pity me!"-DON'T) but I wanted to tell you about my experience.   It's sobering in a way, because the tiny bit of trouble I went to due to my sprain is nothing compared to what people in some countries have to go through, including putting their lives at risk.

Spouse drove me, crutches in the back seat.

First obstacle:  the curb.  I haven't quite gotten the hang of going up stairs with my crutches, so I had to remember the mantra:  Good leg up, bad leg down.  In other words you lead with the good leg going up, and  the bad leg going down.  I got up the curb and slowly made my way to the front door.  So far, so good, except that my formerly fast walk has turned into a slow, deliberate crawl.

Spouse was good enough to hold the door.  At least in this point of my life I'm not as self conscious so I didn't expect, or care, if people stared at me.

I was fortunate that I only had to wait a couple of minutes.  I balanced on the crutches to sign the book you have to sign in New York State before you are allowed to vote.

Until last year, we had lever voting machines.  Now, we've joined the electronic age, but with paper ballots.  So I somehow, while grasping my crutches, transported a long paper ballot, the special marking pen, and the privacy screen, to the corral where you do your marking.

The poll worker asked "would it be easier for you to sit?"  I told him, yes.

So I got to see how the "handicapped" corral function worked.  A part of the corral swings up and locks, and you can push a wheelchair under the table part.  The worker then got a chair for me.  I sat, marked my ballot, inserted it into the privacy sleeve, then got up, then carried (grasping my crutches at the same time) the ballot and the pen to the scanning machine.  Thankfully, the scanning worked the first time. Then, reversing the process, spouse held the door, I went out to the parking lot, hurt my foot stepping off the curb because I haven't mastered "down" yet, hobbled into the car, and from there, home.

The neat part was yet to come.

When I signed onto Facebook there was a large "I voted" button Facebook asked members to click if they had voted.  I did so and I got to see which of my Facebook friends had already voted.  Some of them live in early voting states and at least one had voted early.   If I could have seen into the future, and if NY permitted, I would have voted early too.  But it was a good effort.  And I am glad to report that I had a good number of voting friends.

And, I hope you voted too.

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