Sentinel-Echo.com

Opinion

May 21, 2014

My Point Is...The voting experience

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Living in different places can sometimes bring the term “culture shock” to its true meaning.

That was the case when I registered to vote after moving to Chattanooga, Tenn. First of all, elections are not held every year in Tennessee as is usually done in Kentucky. Secondly, voters in Tennessee did not have to specify a political party preference -- at least not back then.

Needless to say, the change from my usual procedure of registering to vote was quite a surprise.

But my first time voting in Tennessee was an experience that will remain emblazed in my mind forever.

I walked into the voting precinct and waited in a long line. This particular booth was unlike anywhere I’d ever voted. The building was divided into sections by large petitions. Along the walls were small black structures that looked like a band leader’s podium with three sides on it. It took some fast thinking to realize that these were the voting machines I was expected to use. I had to use a stylus to punch holes in the appropriate spots beside the name of the person I wished to vote for, and even had to physically flip the pages to move on to the next category of candidates with each particular race.

I was stunned, to say the least. Never in all my adult life had I used such a machine before. As a registered voter in Kentucky, I had always voted on a large machine by pulling  a switch to mark my vote, and I always had a curtain on the machine to ensure that my vote could not be seen by others. The Tennessee voting method seemed very primitive to my previous voting experiences. I was amazed that a small town like London, Ky., was more advanced in its voting facilities than a so-called progressive and heavily populated city as Chattanooga, Tenn.

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Now that school is out, what are your family’s summer vacation plans?

A. No major plans. We will probably hang out around Laurel County.
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