SOUR GRAPES: Reflections on the week

Working on absentee ballots in Benton County

By Jim Magdefrau

In the week of the election, I distracted myself by watching a course on the rise of the Roman Empire.

A few things stood out.

It was stressed by those in power that truly civilized people should not work at all. Leave that to the others. The Plebians. Or the slaves. Part of that work. Laundry! You do not want to know how they bleached their clothing. Just know it was the No. 1 solution.

Sulla emphasized success came by eliminating anyone who disagreed with you. A lot of knife play in the senate back then. Some in power also called for a personal oath of allegiance. One also campaigned on restoring original virtues and not offering Roman citizenship to anyone outside of Rome. Even Italians. There was a lot about the Sabine women. Watch out.

Eventually they got too big, spread out and I think they just ran out of people to stab.

I’m so glad things have changed since then. And I’m using detergent for my laundry.

* * *

Rather than be anxious about how the vote was going to turn out, I volunteered to help with the results and the massive absentee ballot count. We had eight people, split into four teams, with one Republican and one Democrat in each team. Ballots were in about 16 boxes, each box with about 430 to 450 ballots. Three teams meticulously counted the envelopes. They then opened the envelopes. Pulled the ballots from the blue secrecy envelopes. And then counted the ballots to make sure it matched. Then it came to our team who unfolded each ballot, and ran them through a scanner, 25 at a time.

A scan could read both sides of the ballot in a second. A few took a while. Some seemed they had gone through a washing machine.

I can’t emphasize the fact that each committee member was passionate in seeing that each vote was counted properly.

There were no disputes or challenges. We had three observers. It was so exciting that one took a nap. It’s not the first time I’ve put somebody to sleep with my work.

The night closed with the challenge of reading write-in votes. Yes. Donald Duck. Mickey Mouse. Pedro. They were represented. One went full Mayberry and wrote in the sheriff, but misspelled his name as Andy Tailor. But we took heart that several voted for Barney Fife and spelled his name correctly. I met Don Knotts twice. I know he’d be chuckling.

It was also unusual to be processing ballots and see the name of Kayne West. But it’s America. But I’d throw my support to Grandmaster Flash. “The Message.” That’s the gold standard for me. Don’t push me!

At the end of two long days, I believed in our system, our workers, and our country. As I said, I believe in America. That’s why next time, I’m voting for America. Here’s to Dewey Bunnell, Gerry Beckley and the late Dan Peek. I’m writing them, and their horse too, though I think the horse still has no name.

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