Friday, October 24, 2008
Thoughts of a Carlisle poll worker
When I arrive at Town Hall on Tuesday, November 4, to work at the polls during my time-slot of 4 to 8 p.m., I’ll have lots on my mind. No, I’ll not have time to have a friendly chat with my neighbor as she waits in line to receive her ballot. The turnout for this Presidential Election will probably set a record, and as voters stand in line waiting for their ballots (hopefully for no more than 15 minutes), we poll workers will be too busy checking addresses, names, and requests for ballots to be friendly with our friends and neighbors.
In fact, to keep the lines moving, extra poll workers have been signed on for this Election Day. From 6 a.m. when the polls open, an hour earlier than usual, to 8 p.m. when the polls close, there will be 30 poll workers, working three- or four-hour shifts. In the evening, there will be 80 of us counting ballots in mixed pairs of Democrat, Republican, or Unenrolled volunteers. (These days, all Carlisle poll workers serve on a volunteer basis.)
We expect that voters will study ballot questions ahead of time and have an idea of how they want to vote. Once they have their ballots in hand they are requested to refrain from talking with anyone until they have filled out their ballots in the voting booth and gone to the checkout table. By now, ballots have been posted at Town Hall, at the Gleason Public Library and the Carlisle Post Office. And a ballot will be printed in next week’s Mosquito. Voting material may be brought with you to the polls, but must be removed when you leave. Election results will be posted at the above locations as well as the Mosquito website early Wednesday morning.
No election clothing, buttons or pins supporting candidates or ballot questions will be allowed to be worn at the polls. At no time may those holding election signs for candidates or ballot questions approach closer than 150 feet from the Town Hall door.
When making plans to vote, voters should be aware of the possible traffic congestion on Westford Street, with cars backed up to the rotary. Busiest times at the polls often are from 7:30 to 9 a.m., noon to 1 p.m., and 3 to 8 p.m.
Town Clerk Charlene Hinton reports there were 3,144 registered voters in Carlisle for the 2004 presidential election. As of October 15, 2008, there are 3,671. “In 2004, mothers requested absentee ballots for their children who were eligible to vote. In 2008, more requests are coming from the young voters themselves,” said Hinton. “More calls are coming from students away at college, and I direct them to the state website to get applications,” she added.
As for requests for ballots coming from American citizens living abroad, Hinton never remembers so many requests coming from so many different countries – 20 countries in all, including Senegal, South Africa, New Zealand and China.
Yes, I’m looking forward to a busy day working at the polls on November 4, and seeing the citizens of Carlisle cast their votes in this very important national election. I wouldn’t want to miss this opportunity to be a part of the election process. I have been lucky to have cranked that wooden ballot box when elections were held at the Town Offices in the Gleason Public Library, when elections were held in the school’s Spalding and Corey Buildings gyms and at our present Town Hall on Westford Street. In recent years, I can’t tell you how often I have heard a voter remark something like, “It is so great to be casting my ballot in this real, wooden ballot box, not on some flaky touch screen.” So see you on November 4, when you will have an opportunity to do that yourself, too.
Home make-over – Carlisle edition
Some of you may have noticed that there is considerable and seemingly constant renovation going on in the Center. The business hub is perpetually under some sort of expansion, alteration or addition; the former A&R lot has evanesced into a garden haven and some of the residents have been caught up in the fix-it-up plague that seems to be sweeping the area. And why not? Maybe the Joneses don’t live next door but they might be coming down the new sidewalk and may have opinions about things. Besides, being in the Historic District does not mean that one’s domicile should look like history has overtaken it.
So, after seemingly endless procrastination, we have undertaken the most dreaded task in a good marriage. Living under the pall of paint and plaster dust can really make even the most secure conjugation think seriously about therapy. It is not simply the thought that this may become a nightmare. For what it may be worth, living in a trailer would be an improvement. At least one would know where to find the Centrum Silver and/or Ativan, as there is no telling what lurks behind the walls of an antique. Unreconstituted antiques are by their nature precarious simply because one’s predecessors were probably not very sophisticated when it came to home repair and never thought that their farmstead might ever be designated “historic.” Thus, first one deals with the more visible externalities: the homestead must not look neglected. This can be a bit of an adventure when one discovers that the reason that the plate is sagging is that the studs no longer reach the sills! Details that escaped notice in the absence of the recent spate of TLC can often become glaring inconsistencies that need to be resolved immediately or lived with in light of a fresh coat of paint. There is an inverse (if not perverse) correlation between the cost of a do-over and one’s ability to live with any newly perceived defect.
More dangerous are the inside walls and trim. After all, if one is going to spiff up the outside, one might as well do the inside. Major mistake. Doing the outside is a walk in the park compared to the inside. That is nigh unto passing through the gates of hell or, at best, a sentence to the funny farm. Having all of one’s domestic paraphernalia piled up under a tarp in the middle of the living spaces is so unsettling that you might begin to think that you had just been deposited at the swap shed. In the future, a saner mind would undertake this work with less ambition.
There may be one advantage to living in an historic district: the available palette for painting the outside is limited compared to the panoply of choices that become available as the work moves indoors. If one of you is hue-handicapped or suffers with chroma-carry-through-disorder, real problems can arise. Selecting the right tone for one room can be nerve-wracking; selecting the right suite of colors for a set of rooms without the guidance of a certified color professional with exactly the same genetic make-up as yourselves appears to be all but impossible. (This is the classic example of one mind being so much better than two). Color angst is truly immobilizing – more so even than the endless menu at a Chinese restaurant with its hyper-abundance of choices that all taste pretty much the same.
. . . So stay tuned for the next episode when the lucky selected family finds out that some neglected detail or ill-conceived color concept drives them around the bend.
© 2008 The