TERRE HAUTE —
I woke up on Primary Election Day and went through my normal routine. I went into the kitchen to get my coffee, check on my favorite radio station, messed around the kitchen to get a little breakfast, went out the front door to get my paper and headed for the family room and turned on the TV to catch the news. Shortly thereafter I hit the shower, got dressed and decided to walk across the street to my polling place to vote in the Primary.
Boy, was I shocked…no politicians, no signs, absolutely no activity at what had been my polling place. For the past four years I have been walking across the street to Collett Park to place my vote into action. Wow, was I surprised!
I hadn't paid a whole lot of attention to all of these extra voting places, new voting places or voting at my favorite grocery store. I mean, why should I? All I had to do was walk across the street and vote. Well, well, well…what a surprise.
Let me see if I have this right. I may not have the exact numbers, but it goes something like this: Some 80 or 90 polling places in Vigo County were turned into 15, 16 or 17 places to vote before or on Election Day. I get the argument about it being better, but I really don't think it was.
I was told if a Primary has a presidential election, senate election or governor election, they bring out more voters. But there was no top-heavy important ballot out there for us to vote on this time. The last time we had a Primary in Vigo County that did not have a senator or governor topping our ballots, we voted about 18,000 people using our old polling places. Now, this time, when you could vote at my favorite grocery store, we only voted about 12,000 people. So, despite all the publicity, despite all the electronic contraptions, 6,000 of us did not vote. That includes me.
I don't know why we thought squeezing voters that had 80 or 90 polling places into a handful of numbers, 16, 17 or 18, would make it easier and/or better. Guess what? It did not, period. I think if I had been running for office, worked hard, spent the money on the advertising you have to do, and 6,000 voters were more than just a little confused by all of this and did not vote, I'd be a little angry.
I would say squeezing the polling places into places to vote regardless of the hours or the convenience, this idea was a total failure. And if I were in the government, I would be really ashamed.
I know I'm sounding like a cry-baby about not having my regular polling place available to me, but with about 6,000 voters not voting I'd say rush back to something like we have had in the past. Next election, I hope I get to walk across the street to my favorite voting place.
Ronn Mott, a longtime radio personality in Terre Haute, writes commentaries for the Tribune-Star. His pieces are published online Tuesday and Thursday on Tribstar.com, and in the print and online editions on Saturday.