I woke up early in Colorado, still a battleground state, according to the November 4 Wall Street Journal. I prepared myself for battle by studying the election items that had arrived at my home yesterday: a flier under my doormat headlined "Vote for the Change We Need," with a number to call to find my polling place; and right above the mat, suspended from my doorknob, a more elaborate hangtag, "Vote Obama," with detailed information on exactly where and when I could do so.
I checked my phone, too, and found six new messages on my landline; not since the advent of the cell phone have I been so popular. One was from Barack Obama, who had become almost embarrassingly attentive. One from Joe the Firefighter (no relation to the Plumber), urging me to vote no on 47. One from Mayor John Hickenlooper — a sheepish robo-call promising me it was his last and asking that I vote no on 46. One from a campaign worker reminding me how important it was to vote yes on 59. Another one from a friend of Barack Obama's.
And then one from an alleged Catholic bishop, informing me how important it was for "Catholic citizens to vote an informed conscience" and alerting me to the alarming fact that "Barack Hussein Obama" was pro-abortion. He left a number, which I planned to dial while I waited in line to vote so that I could tell him 1) that Calhoun is not an Irish Catholic name, but good old Scot Presbyterian (if I ever run into Bob Beauprez, I'll tell him the same — I'd gotten one of his Catholic conscience calls last week), and 2) just how much I appreciate his nasty reminder that "Hussein" is Obama's middle name.
At 6:45 a.m., standing 26th in line at my polling place, I dialed the bishop — only to find out that the number led to a fax machine. Fortunately, the voting process went much more smoothly. By 7:09, I was dropping my two-page ballot in the box and slapping on the sticker that proclaims "I Voted."
With my conscience, all right.
— Patricia Calhoun
Swingers: It happened again. I began the day, filled with the sense of wildly inflated self-import that comes from voting in a historic election in a swing state. At around 9:20 a.m., I leisurely walked across the street to my polling place, the Denver Public Schools administration building on Grant Street, and...nothing happened.
There were no lines, no screaming protestors, no hanging chads, no malfunctioning computers, nothing. Just a handful of people quietly doing their civic duty and moving on with their day. It took me less than fifteen minutes to get my ballot, pencil in the lines and slap a sticker on my chest.
This is my third swing state. I voted in Florida in the 2004 George Bush/John Kerry disaster, and I voted twice in Ohio — the Swinger to End All Swing States — including this spring's much-watched Democratic primary. And never, in all those years, have I encountered a problem. Or even a long line. And I'm a reporter, folks. This deathly boring string of events is not good for business.
All I can hope for is this: Maybe I'm some kind of good-luck charm. Maybe the elections divisions in swing states see me coming and decide to straighten up their acts. Or maybe I just keep getting assigned the wrong polling places. Who knows? But here's hoping that every other voter in Denver has as boring a day as I did.
— Lisa Rab
Mail call: All day Tuesday, polling places across town reported that the voting process was going smoothly.
But there were still plenty of bumps in the road — and Mimi Kaupe hit one of them. Since she's working in California, she'd long ago applied to the Denver Election Division for a mail-in ballot at her Denver address. When it hadn't arrived by early last week, she called the division and was assured one was on its way. She called again mid-week and was told not to worry. When a mail-in ballot still hadn't arrived by Friday, she made another call.
The woman she reached this time started muttering under her breath when she looked up her name. "I can't believe the idiots here," Mimi heard her grumble. When the woman came back on the line, she told Mimi, "I'm going to Fed Ex you a ballot, and you'll get it tomorrow morning before ten o'clock."
It didn't arrive. On Monday, Mimi again called the election division, where yet another worker told her, "You would not believe the people we have working here." But in fact, Mimi did believe. Still in California and unable to cast a provisional ballot, she was getting desperate — and she desperately wanted to vote in this battleground state.
So on Tuesday morning, she made her fifth call and spoke to her fifth person in the Denver Election Division. This one promised her that in an hour, she'd get an emergency ballot faxed from the secretary of state's office. While she waited for it, she called me. She called me again two hours later, to report that she'd gotten so concerned while waiting that she'd made her sixth call to the office (where she'd at least talked again to her fifth person), and the application for an emergency ballot had finally arrived — but she couldn't get it back to the Denver election office because the fax there was busy.
For an hour and forty-five minutes.
Finally, her application made it back to the office at 4:45 p.m. It was approved, and she got back a blurry ballot, which she promptly filled out as well as she could. But the fax at the Denver Election Division was once again busy. And then, at 6:06 MST — a break! Mimi's ballot went through.
I didn't have the heart to tell her that had she voted in our polling place Tuesday (she lived right around the corner), she would have been in and out in ten minutes. — Calhoun
This page was completed at poll-closing time on Tuesday night. For many more tales from the front of battleground Colorado, go to the Latest Word blog at westword.com. Got scoop? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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