Wednesday, February 15, 2012 / 2:56 pm

Venting My Spleen: Election Day

My adventure in voting after a long, long day.

by Donna Schoenkopf

Eddie Stackhouse
Eddie Stackhouse

I had worked all day (ten hours, to be exact) and was tired, hungry, and crabby.

The drive home down Killer Highway 177 was long.  I couldn't wait to see my happy dogs and get something in my starving self.

But as I was nearing my turnoff I realized that it was election day.  There was a County Commissioner race and a School Board race.

I have never missed an election but as I pulled into my driveway I actually considered skipping this one.  I climbed out of my car, dogs hopping happily all around me, and walked into the house.

And knew I wasn't going to skip this one either.

So I climbed back into my car and headed back to Tecumseh.  I drove up to the bank that had always been my polling place and saw that it was dark.  No “Vote Here” sign on the door, which was locked.  I watched the janitor sweeping inside.

Ahhhh, crap!

A guy my age had pulled up to the outdoor ATM so I strode over to his pickup and tapped on his window, which he rolled down, and asked him if he knew where the new polling place was.

He didn't because, he said, he hadn't voted for a couple of years.  But he called his wife, who told him she thought it was at the First Baptist Church on Broadway.  So I thanked him (and mentally thanked his wife,) hopped back in my car and drove over there.

Dark.  Locked.  Grrrrrrr.

I drove all the way home again, telling myself that I had tried to vote, so I had an excuse.

But I wasn't home for two minutes before I picked up the phone and called the Pottawatomie County Election Board.

An older woman answered.  I was in a snit by now and demanded to know why I hadn't been told where my new polling place was.

She totally ignored my question and asked my name.  And how to spell it.  EIGHT times.  And then called me Diana.  And then asked for my address.  And then asked for it another three times.

Now I was steaming and said, “You're not going to answer my question, are you?”

She replied that I had been sent a new voter registration card.

No, I hadn't.  And I pay close attention to my mail.

She finally told me that I was to go to 914 E. Walnut Street in Tecumseh to the First Methodist Church. 

So I hopped back into my car and drove back to Tecumseh.  As I drove down Walnut, the only church I could see was the Highland First Christian Church and it was on the wrong side of the street to be 914.


So I drove ALL the way down Walnut looking for some kind of address number somewhere but not one street sign had a number on it, nor did any house, NOR did any business.


So I stopped at the Love's gas station and minimart and asked Linda if she knew where the First Methodist Church at 914 E. Walnut was. 

Our conversation included the fact that there were no numbers anywhere on any of the streets.  She laughed and held up a cash register receipt and said the only reason she knew her store was at 100 E. Walnut was because she saw it on the receipt.

She made me laugh.  Which was good.

Then she called Randy, the Tecumseh cop, who, she said, was a character and would escort me to the proper polling place.

So I waited outside for Randy who never came.  But another cop showed up and I asked him where my polling place was and he said I should go to City Hall and they could tell me because there was a polling place there.

So I climbed into my car, tired and hungry and crabby and drove over to the City Hall and walked inside where some polling place volunteers smilingly told me there WAS no First Methodist Church on E. Walnut but that the Highland First Christian Church was out there and they were the only other Tecumseh polling place.  (We have two, it turns out.)

So I threw my poor old body into my car and drove down E. Walnut to the Highland First Christian Church which was completely dark and had no cars in the parking lot.  But I was already there so I drove around to the back, just because, and there were lights on!  And cars!  And people!

And I pulled up at 6:55 pm (the polling places close at 7:00 pm) and stood in the doorway with a very ugly expression on my face and the polling place volunteer smiled a sweet smile and told me EVERYONE HAD TROUBLE FINDING THE PLACE, and she patted my back and handed me my ballots AFTER I showed my ID because Oklahoma had just passed the “must show your valid picture ID to vote” law (to dissuade the hordes of cheaters who vote without proper credentials, but mostly the elderly, poor, and disenfranchised who vote Democrat) and I voted for Eddie Stackhouse, who was running for Pottawatomie County District #3 for County Commissioner because he's the Democrat and he had just laid down beyoooootiful gravel and asphalt on my little country road, the first time EVER, all my neighbors said, and they've been living here for over 20 years.

And then I noticed the polling volunteer's vest was made by Patagonia and told her she had a nice vest from a great company and she said her daughter had sent it to her and that it was light and comfortable.

And I drove home, and waded through the jumping dogs, and put on my pajamas and made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and crawled into bed.

But I am still mad.

Love's Gas Station
Love's Gas Station
Donna Schoenkopf recently retired from teaching at 61st Street School in South Central Los Angeles, and has moved back to Oklahoma, where she spent her teens.


Welp, I had a new polling place this go ‘round too.  I got a new Precinct and a new voter ID.  I got to University Baptist Church, tried door after door, walking all around the building.  And, there it was, the last door I could try without going around the building repeating trying doors again.  The folks were nice—had a nice long chat with the guy who delivered my Grandfather clock when I first moved to Shawnee. And that was that. Poll results this morning were glad tidings.  The entire bunch of proposals that would raise sales tax and ad valorem tax were trounced by the good souls of Shawnee.  I reckon that’s a hooray.

2012-02-15 by Doyal

Good for you Donna. Good for you.

2012-02-15 by sally Collins

I had a new polling place this time also, but I had received a new card in the mail and knew that I was changed from the University Baptist Church to the YMCA.  When I arrived at the Y, there were two women ahead of me.  The one at the head of the line was telling the election workers that she had not received a notification of change from the Y to UBC where they were directing her to go.  The woman just ahead of me laughed and said that she had always voted at the church but had been switched to the Y.  Geeezzz!  I would have hated being a pole worker Tuesday.  Lots of unhappy folks to deal with.

2012-02-15 by Nelda

I was also told I had been sent a new voter ID, that never happened.  I figured out my new voting station from the newspaper listing.

2012-02-15 by Fr. Clark Shackelford

Good for you for hanging in there—you are one tough one, and I admire your spirit. However, beware of County Commishes bearing gravel, especially just before election time (grading and graveling county roads and cleaning out bar ditches in election year is an old Okie politics trick. Once, living in a small town in Mexico, one day military trucks drove into the center of town and every household was given a big sack of rice. After the trucks left, the people there told me that happened every six years before the federal elections—same trick as in Oklahoma.

This may sound cynical, and your candidate may be a straight shooter—I’m just saying. Keep it up; you inspire us all.

2012-02-15 by Mike Farrall

I wish I could think of something clever to say about all this.  But I can’t.  Except, that, goddamn!, you’re just something else….Mike

2012-02-15 by Michael McGehee

I can’t believe they have a voter ID law there! I thought that was unconstitutional like a poll tax. Good for you for voting, mom.

2012-02-16 by john schoenkopf

Ah, yes, keep the target moving, “misplace” paperwork, make voting as hard as possible, that’s how you keep people apathetic and/or cynical and drive them to just give up, which then allows you to screw them over at will.  Nice shell game.  Fortunately, you’re one of the rare ones that won’t be given the run-around.  Good for you.

2012-02-16 by Ann Calhoun

We solved our voting place problem by BECOMING the voting place…..It’s glorious to see election after election the same faces, growing babies, dogs, etc.  However, We have to put a portable vine in front of our Peace pole, because voting places aren’t allowed to have any political signs…...
    Donna!  had sweet talk with Bekka last night.  Fortunately she has your strength and your sense of humor.  I love you!
PS…hey John…check out OCCUPY LA for signs of the Bradster.  He’s all over it!

2012-02-16 by carole shakely

And I’m still mad too! Good for you, Mama!

2012-02-16 by Rebecca

Donna, I applaud your tenaciousness! I dont know that I would have been able to drag my body around Pott. county…but, if I hadnt eaten, I would have been just as ticked off!
My voting place didnt change. (Wow)But Im really surprised so many people didnt ok the taxes…a half-cent for 10 years for improvements to the Expo center, where hundreds of families meet every July for the Youth Finals Rodeo?! That event alone has brought lots of money and good publicity to Shawnee.(and they turned down Las Vegas to come here?!)

2012-02-17 by sharon

Nice piece…

I too admire your tenacity, but then I’m also a very committed voter… I have to be, so I can complain! Your troubles on election day sound like a new version of the same old inside baseball that’s been played all over the country over the last several election cycles. Create roadblocks between people and the polling places, require govt issued current photo ID’s to vote,eliminate same day registration and restrict mail-in voting, reduce the number of polling places (and mail sorting centers…!) and limit parking and covered waiting areas at those that remain. This is sadly not limited to Pott. Co. or even to the Red States, the cutbacks at the USPS threaten most of the vote in CA and 100% of Oregon’s vote is by mail…

I cut my political teeth in Shawnee, in 1968, but I’ll bet most of the Dems I worked with and for at the time are no longer with us, either passing on to their reward or passing over to the Republicans! And what Republicans! Did they quit teaching critical thinking in OK schools after I moved away? Somehow a people whose populist sentiments once bordered on outright socialism decided the BANKERS and the folks in the ‘oil bidness’ were the ones to listen to and that teachers, workingmen and Democrats were somehow the enemy…

I admire you for gettin’ to the polls, but more I think for finding it in yourself to go back there and fight the good fight… Good luck!

I reserve my right to comment upon the affairs of my birthplace due to the substantial tax bill I pay on my late grandfather’s home, in full and in one payment, every year… On time, without complaint. It’s about .65% of the value every year. Could hit $400 soon. Might help things a bit if it was little higher. Oh, and the County tax collector is very efficent, got my address right and all the very first time… Keeps real good track of me, too. Maybe if she had the time and a little extra hard drive space she could… Na, that would be way to logical… 

Gregg Johnson
San Jose CA

2012-03-12 by Gregg Johnson

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