Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Me, the Election Official!

I was an election "judge" in Minneapolis on Tuesday. That means I got to sit at different stations in the big room in Ward Seven, Eleventh Precinct while people came in to vote. I checked people in, helped people register, watched the machine where people inserted their ballots, and handed out "I Voted" stickers. Turnout at first was very heavy. It’s a mixed precinct, everyone from welfare moms to businessmen, students to senior citizens. I was surprised at how many had to re-register until the Precinct Captain told me that it’s a part of town where many people are "just passing through," and others are still finding themselves, and so they all move a lot. One young woman came in with her small dog, but animals are not allowed in the voting area. We weren’t busy at the time so I volunteered to sit out in an outer room and hold the little animal for her. She was a mixed breed dog, quite small, the kind with long, unkempt-looking gray-black fur. She sat very quietly, barely acknowledging my words or strokes. Then her mistress appeared, and she became a wild thing revealing, I think, how anxious and unhappy she was over the separation – but too gently-bred to growl and sulk over her absence. A good little dog.

Entries in my find a boyfriend for Betsy have dropped off sharply, and I’m tempted to call off the contest early. I’m at a part of the book where he needs to appear and it’s hard writing around him. But I said November 15, so I guess I should stick to that date. It’s going to be hard to choose, there are some really great entries. Once in awhile I will get an entry that is obviously part of a story the writer has thought about, and those people I encourage to go ahead and write the story – even the novel, if it appears complex enough. There are web sites on which a writer can try out a story using some published author’s vision – Star Trek fans are legendary for stories set in that world. But it’s possible to write a story set in Betsy Devonshire’s Excelsior, too. I’d love to read a story told from Godwin’s point of view. Also such exercises can be a step for a budding author to get his or her very own original story published.

5 comments:

ellen said...

My favorite web site for fan stories is http://www.fanfiction.net/ . There's a LOT of fiction (including some of mine) and an active culture of giving comments. A lot of them are just strokes or flames, but some are surprisingly acute.

You need to register, but I haven't had trouble with that in years and years.

Terri Thayer said...

My earliest writing was fan fiction, but there was no word for it. When I was in junior high, my girlfriends and I would write stories about our favorite Beatle. (George, by default because John was taken). We would go to fabulous parties in wonderful clothes, with an adoring Beatle on our arm, totally dissing the real girlfriends, Jane Asher and Patti Boyd.

Great fun and good practice for writing boyfriends later.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

I had something funny happen yesterday. I asked for a paper ballot and pulled my felt-tip pen out and marked the circles. Afterwards, I heard that some pens couldn't be "read" on the ballots. I stopped back by the polling place and no one knew whether certain pens could or could not be "read." Finally, one smart election official said that if my ballot was NOT spit back out by the optical reader, it must have been read. I was shocked that they didn't know (besides thinking of this) with certainty whether my vote woulc have, indeed, counted.

Betty Hechtman said...

I liked your description the kind of people in the precinct you worked in. People watching must have been fasincating.

How nice of you to dogsit.

Monica Ferris said...

They had a special setup in another room where little kids could vote. It was amazing -- and revealing -- how many little kids came in and revealed in a great big whisper that they voted for Obama! LOL