I went to vote at the only polling station designated for Northern California this afternoon. There was a huge crowd waiting to vote. Apparently, 800 people had voted in the morning hours and the polling station had run out of ballot sheets by noon. Everyone was told to wait while additional ballot sheets were flown in from Los Angeles.
I waited alongside many others for several hours before I was able to cast my vote. People were tired and upset with the inexcusable delay, but they wouldn’t leave until they had voted. Even news of Ahmadinejad’s win didn’t seem to deter anyone from the wait. Several hundred people waited in lines and received tiny slips of paper which showed them entitled to receiving a ballot sheet. I asked an official how many additional ballot sheets had been received and he said “600.” So, in all 1,400 people could vote in Northern California today. I don’t know whether anyone was turned away when they ran out of the 1,400 ballot sheets, but I was determined to cast my vote, so I waited.
When I finally made it to the room at Emeryville Hilton Hotel to cast my vote, after receiving the stamp in my birth certificate, I was directed to another table where I had to leave a fingerprint on a sheet of paper in return for a ballot. I asked the young man who was taking care of me why the event had been planned so poorly. Afterall, a very large Iranian community lives in my area and they should have anticipated a large turnout. The young man made some apologetic noises and went on to say: “Well, really, I doubt any of this would make that much of a difference, as the results have already been announced.” I had bent down to ink my finger when I heard this. Slowly I processed what I had just heard, and straightening up, I said to him: “Young man, you have no right to say that. You are an officer at a polling station which is still open and has to operate according to rules and regulations. I am a voter who is participating in an election. It is quite possibly illegal for you to tell me what you just told me. Furthermore, it is insensitive and inappropriate of you to mock my attempt to vote in an election I see so important, and after waiting for several hours for you to get your act together. Do you see how ridiculous your statement is?” He said: “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.”
I voted today. Lackluster and apparently futile, I am not sorry I did. For all the shame and humiliation and concern I have felt over the past four years, the only thing I could do was to cast my one vote. I could do no more and I did it. I don’t even have any hopes that my one vote would be counted correctly. But I did the only thing I could do.