Today I voted in my first Iowa Straw Poll. It was quite an experience. The experience was heightened by the fact that I chose to volunteer at the Straw Poll not for my candidate, but for the Iowa GOP. Let me tell you, if I ever volunteer for them again it will be too soon.
Okay, okay, you want results. Here ya go. Now, stop spoiling my story with your questions.
First, I arrived to learn that the medium size Straw Poll t-shirts did not come in and I was going to have to wear an enormous shirt. Medium would have been huge on me anyway, why can't anyone order smalls? I went to the restroom and came swimming out in my new, giant orange t-shirt. I swam up to the volunteer orientation. Once there I learned in completely uncertain terms how I was supposed to credential and check people in so they could vote. I then proceeded -- swimmingly and confusedly -- down the stairs to wait in a packed horde outside while our leader figured out which direction to take us in.
Fearless vague leader (FVL) took us to our building and requested all the good typists to sit behind the computers. Being a good typist I took my seat. I was soon accompanied by a fine, upstanding young volunteer with all the spirit and drive of a regular Iowan. She was great. FVL told us that we would be taking only student and military IDs. Then another leader came up to us and he shall be called confuzzled leader (CL). CL told us that we would take only driver's licenses. FVL came back and we asked her, she said that we would take driver's licenses, student ids and military ids. Then we learned that people with military ids and student ids had to fill out "voter registration" forms. No one knew if they had to fill the form out before or after they voted. It took us 15 minutes to get that news flash from FVL. Then we noticed we had no ballots. We were told that we would get to vote before all the other people. At 9:30am to be exact. Then they switched that to 9:45am. The ballots did not show up until 5 to 10. CL came back and said we would have to wait until later to vote (thus crushing the whole point of being a volunteer -- to vote first and with no lines) and he let the struggling masses into the building.
The masses were generally pleasant. I got cussed out twice. Once by a state trooper who thought it was ridiculous that I had to use his driver's license for an ID instead of his state trooper license. When we explained that the various campaigns had settled on certain rules the guy called me and the helpful fellow doing the explaining some unspeakable names and produced his driver's license. The second time I got cussed out it was by a fellow who could not fathom the fact that we wanted him to put ink on his finger. He was convinced that we were fingerprinting people because we had some napkins there in case anyone wanted to blot their finger so the ink would not get all over their clothes. This guy had some very choice words and would not listen to my nearly shouted explanation despite the fact that I explained three times. He kept coming back to cuss me out again! You would think he would have noticed the complete lack of fingerprinting equipment other than pink ink on an ink-pad . . . Iow-idiots, gotta love 'em.
So, other than that people were nice and listened. I must say, however, being around so many Iowans at once was daunting. They're great people most of the time. But they do not make logical connections. For example, take the above paragraph. Furthermore, when you tell them which way to go they sometimes go in the opposite direction. We had several people walk out the wrong door carrying their ballots with them. The other thing that got me was our hardworking volunteers. Good people, but they had a tendency to forget simple facts. Like, say, the fact that no one without an Iowa photo ID (driver's license, student id or military id) was allowed to vote. I had the people at the table next to mine send a woman over so I could put her info in when all she had was a piece of paper with her name and address on it. Now I do not disbelieve her and I feel bad that she did not get to vote. But we had to stick to the campaign rules and I hate it when people put me on the spot by saying I can help someone when I cannot.
Sometimes I think there is not enough space in Iowa for me and all these Iowans. Don't get me wrong, I have learned a lot by living in this great state: Number 1) people will always go that extra mile for you if you need help. Number 2) if an Iowan is looking for a fight there is no way to sway that Iowan's opinion. And Number 3) Iow-idiots are out there, everywhere. I can take a few at a time and laugh along my merry way. But 33,000? That I simply cannot take with a smile on my face.