Barack Obama

On Tuesday, Chris and I volunteered for Barack Obama. I got a very interesting perspective on the election process in the US, and to tell you the truth, it was impressive.

We drove up to New Hampshire, and checked into the Plymouth democratic campaign headquarters. They promptly dispatched us to Benton, NH, apparently half an hour from the Canadian border.

We arrived at around 11:00am and stayed until around 4:00pm. We were asked to call back to the Plymouth office once we had arrived to let them know what was going on. We received no instructions on what to do, where to stand, and what to expect.The only other sign holder was standing for a NH State Rep, Charlie Chandler. There was no sign for John  McCain.

This photo shows me in front of the Benton Town Office which is a smallish two room building which apparently serves as town administration and town hall building for Benton.

Democracy in action. In conversations with the town moderator, we learned about the process. There was one curtained handicapped voting booth, equiped for hearing and vision impaired people. There is a telephone in the booth to allow them to call in their vote. They even provide for voters who are paralyzed and who can only communicate by blowing into a straw.

There were some tables with about 6 officials sitting in various spots. At the close of the day, these folks manually tally the results, I am sure everyone checking each other, and then the results are called into the State Attorney General. They are given a password a week ahead of time so when they call in they can authenticate themselves.

The town of Benton has (according to what they told me) around 250 elegible voters. It is a tiny place. When you hear the candiates talk about "the cities and towns and hamlets of New Hampshire", well this is barely a hamlet.

In fact everyone was very pleasant and nice.  In addition to being open for voting, the town was having a bake sale. Residents had baked cookies ("Wine Cookies") breads (homemade english muffins), soups, sweets and all kind of stuff. The funds all go into the towns general funds.

We were told that "this is McCain Country," not in a mean way but just in sympathy that we had been asked to volunteer in a place that was basically a lost cause already. It didn't seem that way to us. We had several voters give us a secret thumbs up, and some poll workers telling us that they were proud to see Obama represented by us. We didn't have high hopes, but yesterday when the results were published, it turned out that in Benton, McCain got 94 votes and Obama got 85 votes. Very close!

So McCain still won Benton, but it was far closer than we thought it would be.

All in all, I was impressed at how decentralized the whole process is. We were at the mouth of one of the tiniest capilaries in the election, and the processes were well worked out, redundant, fair, people had training, the sheriff stopped by to make sure that all was orderly.

Anyway, it was a fantastic experience.
Posted on November 6, 2008 and filed under Life, Politics.