(Toledo, OH) I garnered a few puzzled looks when I took out my camera at the polling booth today, but no one challenged either my status as a photographer or a voter this morning. For the record, I was voter number 35 in my precinct at 7:15 AM, and it appeared that the turnout was quite high today in Toledo.
There were no campaign supporters to waylay me as I entered the polling station, which is always fine by me. I feel compelled to smile and accept the proffered pieces of literature, even if I am voting for the opposing candidate. I have never been one to relish a confrontation in the parking lot over a campaign brochure, but I have witnessed some hot-headed voters in the past who get testy at the campaign volunteers.
The procedure for party declaration in Ohio at primary elections is a bit intrusive. Poll workers ask you to verbally declare your party, and as a political independent it always sounds strange to me when I have to say "I am a Democrat" or "I am a Republican" or "I am a Green Party member" to some well-meaning worker. Even more surreal was the blue collar voter behind me, whose booming "Republican" reply seemed at odds with the jacket he wore, which advertised the GM Powertrain plant on Alexis Road.
Changing times, to be sure.
Beyond the Democratic presidential candidates, the only decision I had to make was about the 3/4% "temporary" income tax that Toledo has been collecting since the 1980s. This is a levy renewal, but some local talk radio personalities have been fanning the flames on a move to defeat the tax. The failure of the levy will result in the loss of some $57 million in revenue for the city of Toledo, which would force the layoff of a projected 40% of the city's workforce.
This is one of those moments where tax-weary voters must weigh the tax savings (in my case, about $500 a year) versus wholesale cuts in city services and a few hundred more unemployed Toledoans adding to the region's economic woes.
I bit the bullet and voted for the levy. As much as I think the shrinking city of Toledo needs to cut its spending (as well as to better manage its declining revenues), I have to live here for the foreseeable future. I think my quality of life will be better served by maintaining this tax and funding city services at their current level than by holding on to that $500 of my income.
As far as the presidential candidates? I will only disclose that my choice was neither Dennis Kucinich nor John Edwards today.