Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tuesday May 8 getting nominating signatures at the primary

One of the first big things Primo had to do was collect signatures for his nominating petition - the petition to get him on the ballot. He spent a few afternoons walking the neighborhood, knocking on doors, but that yielded only a few signatures. It took about ten minutes per signature. He had to collect 200 good signatures and could turn in 400. So if you want the full 400 signatures, ten minutes per signature is a lot of time. It's a lot of Saturday and Sunday afternoons that could be spent doing other things.

It's 400 x 10 minutes = 4,000 minutes, which is 4,000/60 = 66.6 hours.

That's a lot of marching up and down the square.

So he decided to try to get signatures during the primary election for the recall election my state is lucky enough to have. The primary was for the Polka Dot party, which is trying to recall the Stripes governor and other elected officials. We thought there would be a lot of Polka Dots in one place.

I recruited several of his friends to help collect signatures. He didn't even think of asking them. "Who is more interested in helping you?" I asked. "Your friends or complete strangers?"

Actually, almost nobody is interested in collecting petition signatures and who can blame them? It's a pain in the neck and you have to have a really thick skin.

But I convinced three of his friends to go to the polls to collect. They're nice people and don't mind spending an hour or two asking people for their signature.

Primo emailed Teresa's husband. She's the one whose campaign he spent so much time working on. Wow, that's an awkward sentence, isn't it? How do you keep that one from ending with a preposition?

Anyhow, at my urging, Primo emailed Teresa's husband to ask if they would collect signatures. In Teresa's husband's defense, Primo did not email until the Sunday before the Tuesday election, even though I had been nagging him about it for over a week.

If anyone knows how to get your husband to do something that is to his benefit, please let me know. I have yet to figure it out.

We didn't hear "boo" from Mr. Teresa. Nothing at all. "They owe you," I said. "Call him."

Primo wouldn't do it. "How are you going to ask people you don't even know for money if you can't ask a deserved favor from someone who said he wants to have us over for dinner?" I asked.

Primo shrugged. Whatever. If we don't get all 400 signatures today, then he's the one who has to go door to door.

We got up at 5:45 a.m. this morning so we could be at the polls when they opened at 7:00.

I really hate getting up so early, at least I hate getting up that early when I didn't get to bed until late, which is my life now that I am in not only a mixed political marriage but also a mixed bedtime marriage.

Got up, showered, dressed, one cup of coffee, out the door. Primo to the elementary school by our house, me to a polling place a mile away.

Wait. Let me amend that. Woke up 15 minutes before the alarm was supposed to go off because I was having nightmares that I had slept through the alarm and had missed half of the election. And that I didn't get to have anything to eat. Which is torture for me.

Only one cup of coffee because I didn't know what the bathroom situation would be.

I got there and there was a line of people waiting outside to get into the polling place. The instructions from the elections board were clear: we could ask people to sign the petition because it was not at all related to the current election, but we had to wait for them to come out of the polling place. We couldn't approach them while they were in line.

I waited and accosted the first person to emerge. He told me he wasn't in the district. I said I thought he was. "But Stripes representative isn't my representative in the house!" he said.

"That's because of the redistricting," I said.

I called Primo. "You're sure this ward is in your district."

"Yes," he said.

"This guy is worried that he's out of the district. What happens if he signs and then he's not in the district? Does he go to jail?"

Primo laughed. "No, the signature is just struck as invalid."

As we were having the conversation, I was watching all the people who had been in line when I arrived leave. Walking right past me. Potential signers and I could do nothing because I was caught up with this guy.

I hung up and explained. He was satisfied. He signed.

That's when the poll judge came out and told me I couldn't be there.

Very politely, I informed her that yes, I could, that the election board had made a ruling that it was legal to circulate a petition at a polling place as long as it was not related to the election being held. As my petition was for the November regular election, it had nothing to do with the primary for the recall election.

She harrumphed, asked for my name, and threatened to call the district attorney. Which made me feel a little bit sick to my stomach. I called Primo. "You're sure we're allowed to be here?" I asked.

"The lady in charge of the polls here just came out and told me I had to go away. I told her about the elections board ruling. She wants me to show it to her, so I am going to print a copy."

I felt a little better. If we were going to the Big House, at least we'd be going together. Except they don't have co-ed prisons, do they? I'd be stuck in a women's prison and I would really never again in my life get enough sleep. I wanted to see the ruling for myself. We would be discussing this.

As people emerged from the polls, I asked, "Would you like to sign the Polka Dot nominating papers?" Most people said, "No thanks," and were very polite, which does not surprise me because this is usually a very polite place to live.

But one older man told me I shouldn't be there. "You're not allowed to be within 100 feet of the polls," he said.

"Sir, that's for electioneering. I'm collecting signatures for the election in November. That has nothing to do with this election."

He paused, then turned to me. "Who should I vote for in this election?"

What a stinker! Trying to trap me into electioneering!

"Sir, I can't discuss that with you. Besides," I smiled, "you've already voted."

He grunted and started to walk away. Then he stopped and turned again. "It's your side that's made us have to have this election and waste all this money," he said.

Bless his heart. I agreed with him. I did not like what the Polka Dots had been doing over the past year. But this was not the time or the place to discuss that issue.

"Sir, it may comfort you to know that I'm in a mixed political marriage," I laughed.

"Then I feel sorry for your husband!" he snapped.

Wow. My jaw dropped. I wanted to say, "I'm on your side!" but I don't know if it would have made any difference. I am not used to strangers being so rude to my face.

I told the story to Primo when I went home for lunch. "Well, that's because Stripes are jerks," he said.

"Watch it," I warned. "I'm doing you a huge favor here. You'd better be nice to me. Besides, how would you feel if someone judged all Polka Dots by your dad?"

He shook his head. "Nope. That wouldn't be good."

"Then let's leave it at this was a grouchy old man, OK? Let's not use him to characterize an entire set of political beliefs." I decided it wasn't worth it to start a discussion on the value of a recall election and to note that the grouchy old man had a point.

After lunch, we both walked back to the school by our house where Primo had been collecting in the morning. We showed the elections board memo, which Primo had printed, to the poll judge. She seemed satisfied and even told us what the voting patterns were so I wouldn't be wasting too much time standing outside the door, waiting for signers.

Primo went to another polling place and I stayed by the school. I got a few more signatures, but then had one man tell me that yes, he voted Polka Dot all the time but he didn't want to sign a petition. I wasn't following his reasoning, but decided not to press him.

Another couple accused me of presenting them with a petition for a Fake Polka Dot candidate.

"This has nothing to do with the recall election," I tried to explain. "This petition is for the regular November election. And I can assure you, my husband is not a fake Polka Dot. We have vigorous discussions about this all the time."

They were unconvinced. But they told me they vote straight party ticket, so we would be fine with them in November.

I went home after an hour, then returned to the school at 5:00, which was when voting seems to be heaviest. I still was getting only one out of every five or six voters, but there were more voters, so I got signatures more quickly. Some people stopped only when they heard the words, "Polka Dot." I was asking, very quickly, even faster than I had in the morning, "Would you like to sign nominating papers for a Polka Dot?"

A Hispanic couple walked up. "Would you like to sign this petition for a Polka Dot?"

The woman hesitated. "I am not a Polka Dot," she said.

I laughed. "Neither am I. I am doing this because I love my husband."

She nodded. "A wife needs to do what the husband wants," she said sagely.

Another woman overheard me. She gasped. "You're a Stripe? Married to a Polka Dot? I'm a Polka Dot. I could never be married to a Stripe! Never!"

I just smiled and said, "There are more things to life than politics."

A lot of people whom I was sure were Polka Dots said no. When you, as a Polka Dot, can't get the pink-haired, multiple-pierced woman or the long-haired, Birkenstocked man signature, what is this world coming to?

There were also several people who didn't know what a nominating petition was and who didn't seem to believe me when I told them. I am often convinced that universal suffrage has some serious drawbacks.

My friend Mary Jo from book club walked up. "What are you doing here?" she asked.

"Nominating petition," I told her.

"Oh! Right! I remember!"

"Hey!" I said to her. "You're a huge Polka Dot! Will you sign?"

She laughed. "I already signed when Primo came to my house, remember? I knew I recognized him."

A friend of hers walked up. "Will you sign nominating papers for a Polka Dot?" I asked.

The friend shook her head. "I'm not a Polka Dot."

Mary Jo said, "Oh come on. The purpose of this petition is just to get him on the ballot. I think everyone should be able to run. I signed my neighbor's petition a few years ago and I couldn't stand him or his politics. But I say let the voters decide."

I agreed. "I don't think anyone should ever run unopposed. And so far, my husband is the only Polka Dot who has expressed an interest in running in this election."

"Just sign it," Mary Jo urged. "You don't have to vote for him, but don't you think it's more democratic if everyone gets a shot at running? Why should the incumbent not have an opponent?"

The friend sighed. "I guess so. I'll sign."

The two of them left to vote and another friend of mine approached. "Maxwell!" I said. "I didn't know you voted here!"

"I do," he said. "What are you doing here?"

"Primo is running for the state house," I said. "Want to sign his nominating papers?"

He held his hands up. "Nope. I'm not a Polka Dot."

"Oh, come on," I urged. "This just gets him on the ballot. He'd sign for you, you know."

He shook his head. Nope. He wasn't going to sign. I was a little disappointed in him. I would sign for a friend who was running for the other side unless the friend was some extreme wacko and I tend not to be friends with people like that. Signing the nominating petition is not the same as voting for.

It took me only 90 minutes to get 60 signatures, which was when I ran out of blank sheets, so I went home. Done! I thought. I was going to eat something and read a brain candy book for the rest of the evening. No more standing. I was sore and tired.

Primo had just gotten home. He was dropping off sheets and picking up some stuff to take to his friend's fundraiser that evening. "I'm done," I announced.

"But what if we need more?" he asked.

"We had Tina, Darcy, and Victor this morning. Victor got 35 signatures. I sent a message to Tina, but haven't heard from her. You'll have to call Darcy. But let's assume they also got 35 as well. Then Christina and Rachel are going out tonight. You and I together have 235. You only need 200."

"But I want 400! It looks better if I turn in 400," he said.

"Nobody cares about that," I scoffed. "You need 200 good signatures. These are all going to be high-quality signatures. They're not going to be struck. Add the 235 to the 150 or so we're probably getting from the other volunteers and we'll be fine."

He gave me the big-eyed kitten look. "Just a few more? Just in case?" He handed me two blank sheets, enough for 20 more signatures.

"Fine!" I said. "I'll do it. But you owe me big time. I mean, huge." I glared at him.

I got 20 more signatures. I came home. Primo was gone at his campaign event.

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