What I want for every voter is what I’ve got

In the New York primaries, I voted early. It was the first time New York had granted early voting.

This year, also for the first time, we had ranked choice voting.

Last year, because of the pandemic, I voted by mail.

Today in the Daily News, I read a letter from a man who said he’d voted in Manhattan. He described his experience this way: he walked into his polling place. He told a poll worker his address and was pointed to the correct table for his district.

He gave the poll worker at the table his name and address. The worker entered his name into her computer. His name, with a signature line, popped up on a computer screen facing him. He was told to sign his name with his finger. (I doubt it; I was given a ballpoint pen, told not to open it but to sign with the blunt nib. I did. I used the same pen to mark my ballot. I got to keep the pen.)

The Daily News letter writer then said he could understand the GOP’s demand for voters’ ID everywhere because had he known a neighbor, say, wasn’t going to vote, he could have supplied the neighbor’s name and address and voted for him.

No; he couldn’t have. Unless he’d practiced forging his neighbor’s signature perfectly, which he could not have accomplished. (I know the trick for forging signatures but the particular format at election precincts would not permit this trick.)

And in fact the letter writer must have had what could be called “voter ID,” because I did. Several months before the primary, I received in the mail a card from “Vote NYC.” It is the size of a credit card, has my name and address on it and a bar code at the bottom. To the right are two numbers: my election district and my Assembly district. The instructions with the card told me to present it at my precinct to make the process quicker and more effective.

So I did. And I was instructed to place the card on a marked rectangle on the table. It was photographed and immediately my voting information (with signature line) popped up on that computer screen — the one I signed with the blunt end of the pen.

I suppose the Daily News letter writer got that card but paid no attention to it, because clearly individual cards were sent to all registered voters.

Still, even without the card, he gave his name and information at the table and signed the computer screen.

The way elections have always worked for me in New York:

  • My voting place is an elementary school three blocks from my building.
  • I have never, even during presidential elections, waited on line more than fifteen minutes. And my neighborhoods are big turn-out neighborhoods.
  • For months before each election, I’ve been reminded dozens of times about the voting processes, including voting by mail and voting early.
  • I received a card which facilitated and sped up the voting process but it wasn’t mandated that I present that card. It was for my benefit, not the state’s.
  • The only real ID I needed was my name and address, and then my signature on the computer screen. I have every reason to believe if my signature did not match the years of my signatures in that computer, someone, probably one of the police officers stationed at the polling place, would have approached me with a frown.
  • After signing in, I was handed a two page ballot, with a reminder that three sides of the ballots had candidates so I wouldn’t miss anyone.
  • I went to a little open booth/desk where, at leisure, I looked over the ballot and then voted.
  • I then took my ballot to a scanner and fed it in. Whoosh! Whoosh!

The only thing missing this year (early voting was not held at the elementary school) was the luscious table of cookies and cakes sold by the students, where I could buy a home-baked cupcake on my way out. In the general election, I’ll be voting where and when the cupcakes are.

As I read about the grotesque voting regulations being shoved through GOP state legislatures, I marvel at how obviously twisted and bizarre all this contemptible and, I hope, unconstitutional nonsense is, given how easy it is for me, and millions like me, to vote securely.

I want everyone in this country to be able to vote as I do, with trust that if the Daily News letter writer tries to vote for his neighbor, he’ll be immediately detained.

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