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The power of the (extremely) local vote

On Nov. 6, polling places are where the action will be

As happy as I am in this city, some things do ruffle my equanimity. Those ear-shredding Blue Angels flew over again last month (for my feelings about those heavenly bodies, see my November 2011 column, “My Blue Angel blues”), and the weekend traffic around Golden Gate Park makes me feel like a New Yorker again. Add the 2012 election rhetoric to produce true unrest.

But if there’s one thing my life is about right now, it’s finding ways not to be upset. I had to take action. So I decided to become an election poll worker.

I went to City Hall, was tested and interviewed, and discovered they needed me as a poll supervisor! Probably because I was the only person in my group who agreed to a 16-hour day. Starting at 6:00 a.m. and ending at 10:00 p.m., it crossed my mind that maybe this was insane; but I wanted to take action, and on Nov. 6, polling places are where the action will be.

Two training classes are required and those sessions should be instructive. With all the news about fictional voting fraud and states’ efforts to disenfranchise many, a poll supervisor’s job is more important now than ever before, so I intend to be well prepared. But it was the promise of an official City Hall parking pass that finally persuaded me. At last, I can actually park in that impregnable part of the city.

Two classes may not be enough. So, I plan to practice my polling superintendent skills by holding family elections in our house, and overseeing how this microscopic community (my husband and two dogs) does its voting thing. I will be kind but firm. I will be knowledgeable about the issues, but allow for dissent and choice. I will be organized and wear a skirt.

But what issues will I supervise? We have several local family bond(ing) issues, as important as any city proposal concerning sewage disposal or public seating for nude people. A home is a small city, and though Peter, Sally, Cyrano, and I have equal say (or barking rights), I am the poll supervisor after all. If Peter wants to be supervisor next time, I suppose we could vote on that as well.

Meanwhile, we have these issues to consider:

Proposition FHP (Family Happiness and Peace): Shall the Family Unit amend its charter to assure equitable sharing of dog-walking duties, so that a revision of the current rules (daytime walks by Wife/nighttime walks by Husband) is set by the clock, not by the amount of daylight in the sky? And to make up for the obvious inequities, shall two-thirds of the weekend walks be in Husband’s purview?

Proposition LAT (Limit All Treats): Shall the Family amend its charter to specify when the dachshunds Sally and Cyrano receive their whined-for dog biscuits, so that the number or specific hour of treat-giving serves as a guide to the bedeviled parents of said dachshunds, rather than the current “give them whatever they want whenever they want it just to shut them up” plan now in place?

And finally, Proposition LDMW (Let Me Do It My Way): Shall the Family amend its charter to create a trust fund that creates actual trust, so that when one Spouse says “Fine, go ahead and do it your way!” said Spouse will allow the other Spouse to indeed do it their way? Said fund shall consist not of money, but of IOUs that read, “If you don’t keep your word and let me do it my way, you will take me out to an expensive dinner.” Canines cannot vote on LDMW, since they are rarely allowed to do it their way anyway.

The issues proliferate, but we have to start somewhere. And I have to practice. One thing my constituency can count on for sure, though: Our family polls won’t open until noon and they will close whenever I say. A girl can only stay in a skirt for so long.

P.S. Be sure to vote, and when you do, be nice to the poll supervisor. She’s having a long day.

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Evalyn Baron is an actress, director and teacher who worked on Broadway and in theaters across the country before moving to San Francisco. E-mail: [email protected]

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