Thursday, January 10, 2008
Another Season, Another Election
On Tuesday, an open house for San Francisco election precinct inspectors was held at an old Community College building on Eddy between Van Ness and Polk.
We were invited to check out the new machines being supplied by Sequoia Corporation rather than ES&S whose machines had been disqualified by Debra Bowen, the new California Secretary of State, causing a handcount in November's last election.
The machines are essentially the same as the old ES&S standbys. You're going to be joining two arrows with a black pen, and then sticking your ballot into a machine that looks the same as the old "Eagle."
The replacement for the legally mandated disabled touch screens is now called The Edge rather than The Automark, and it seems to be a bit easier to use and assemble, but it's still baroquely overdesigned and difficult to operate, with cards that need to be verified in one machine and stuck in another that's attached to a printer, and let's just say you don't want to use the damned thing if you can help it.
Unfortunately, the byzantine rules for setting up and breaking down an election precinct in San Francisco still involve a bewildering number of seals, both plastic and paper, large plastic bags with various numbers on them for ridiculously specific categories, too many boxes, an absurd assortment of signage in four different languages along with Braille, and so on and so forth. I thought of quitting on the spot but it's actually starting to feel like a civic duty.
As for what you will be voting on, it's essentially an election for the various national parties' presidential candidates, and for the first time in memory California actually gets to have some input into the debate. There are three San Francisco propositions, including Yes on A which is a plea for more money for the mismanaged, corrupt, nepotistic and thoroughly lazy San Francisco Rec & Park Department without any promise of any "reform" whatsoever. Proposition B is another bit of a giveaway in even more retirement money to the old mastodons of the San Francisco Police Department, and if for no other reason than the department's recent performance, you should vote a resounding no. I'm not going to even comment on "Proposition C: Adopting a Policy that the City of San Francisco Should Acquire Alcatraz Island and Make It a Global Peace Center," except to say that of course I will vote yes in a spirit of pure perversity.
Most of the state propositions are Schwarzenegger/Indian casino deals to spread the beauty of slot machines throughout California, and let me quote that still-living powerhouse of politics, Nancy Reagan, to "Just say no," which goes for the other three propositions too.