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The Collegian News Blog

School buses, soccer moms and an election

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Granted, my timing was bad, but having a poor voting experience is never a good thing.

Precinct 6 in Amherst, the Fort River School on South East St. was a mess.
Deciding to vote mid afternoon was definitely a poor decision, since I didn’t get over there until 3 p.m. – right when the elementary school was letting out its students.

I walked into the voting area, which resembled a converted kindergarten classroom, that was much too small for the constant stream of people that were arriving.

This brought up one interesting question. Why wasn’t the University able to secure funding to be able to have a voting booth in the Cape Cod Lounge, much like in the gubernatorial election? Or even Amherst High School, I’m sure there could have been a bigger room or even a more private way to vote than the method I just participated in.

I picked up my state ballot, but when I went to the second table to grab my ballot for the Amherst select board, I was met with an incredulous face.

“You know this is for the town of Amherst select board,” said the woman at the table.

“Yes,” I replied and rattled off my street name. “In Amherst,” I proceeded to emphasize.

Ma’am, just because I look like a college student does not mean that I haven’t been a resident of Amherst for four years – much like the rest of you upstanding, Amherst citizens. I’ve even spent the last year and a half living solely in Amherst, living on campus, contributing much more money than I probably should have to your local businesses and also paying rent in an apartment in Amherst. So let me have my select board ballot, please. I live here too.

I shuffled over to the scrunched and crowded, white booths. But with people filtering around and behind me it was hard to concentrate – or to even feel like I wasn’t projecting who I was voting for to the entire kindergarten classroom.

I left frustrated, although it only took me a total of 15 minutes to vote. I didn’t consider my experience too terrible – until I tried to exit the parking lot.

If voter competence was measured by driving ability, I’m pretty sure about half the people in that parking lot wouldn’t have been able to vote this Nov. 4.

Despite almost being hit by about three soccer moms as I was pulling out of my space, I waited another quarter of an hour for the buses to pull out of the lot. The intersection exiting the Fort River School is a dangerous one, and investing in a traffic officer probably would have been a better decision than just letting cars run wild.

Although my 2008 Amherst voting experience wasn’t bad enough to make me never vote again, hopefully the next time around we might be able to secure a different location – without the big, yellow school buses.

- Kate Olesin
posted by Collegian Staff, 4:49 PM

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