We were glad to hear that in order to vote in the North Dakota Democratic Caucus, one only needs to have lived in North Dakota for 30 days. Having met that requirement, I ventured down the street to the Cowboy Hall of Fame, the caucus site for our area. That doesn't sound that exciting, but what happened was worth mentioning.
First of all, I laughed because the sign taped to the door said something about it being the "Cacuas" site. Through the inner door, there were two older guys - in cowboy attire - sitting at the table. We were the only ones there for the moment.
"We have questions," I said. I explained that we were technically Minnesota residents, but we obviously can't vote there and be here at the same time, that we met the 30 day requirement and wanted to participate. I could sense them tensing up as I started explaining all that, but once I said "30 days" then they relaxed and started handing me the pen. I had to write my name and street address on their notepad. Easy enough. No ID required, no piece of mail required.
The gentleman on my left - I imagine him wearing a cowboy hat, but I might have made that up - handed me a pen and a piece of note paper. It was the kind of paper like I would expect to be posted on a refrigerator door, with a decorative border, lined, and some little phrase written at the top like "Friends," "Welcome," or "Kitchen." I paused for a moment, not quite sure what to do. I realized that I was to write the candidate's name I wanted to vote for on the notepaper. I asked anyway, and the man pointed to the back of a pad of paper where the candidates' names were written, "Write the name of one of these two candidates." And here I was used to scan-card balloting and literally waiting in line for an hour at the Wisconsin Union last time I did a Primary.
"Ah, very informal, then," I said, uncontrollably stating the obvious.
There wasn't really a solid place for me to write on, so I had to awkwardly hold the paper in one hand and try to scrawl on the notepaper obviously stolen from someone's kitchen. I folded it in half, then looked for the ballot box. The other man at the table, who had been virtually silent so far, held the box under his left arm.
The ballot box was without fanfare, and I might have expected that by now. It was nothing more than a dusty cardboard box that might as well have come off the UPS truck that same day. The top was still clamped down with tape - no decorative slot had been cut into it - and it bulged with ballots. It was so swollen with democracy, it was tough to get my piece of notepaper in the box. We both strained to pull it open just enough to slide my note under the top flap.
Feeling good about Democracy again, I just had to stand by to find out the results.
North Dakota just gets better all the time. The librarian didn't care how long I kept the DVDs I borrowed even when I tried to return or renew them, the Party was very trusting when it came to selecting a Presidential candidate, and the postmaster greets me by name whenever I see her. Plus, everybody thinks it's a terrible climate to live in, so they stay away. The secret's out, North Dakota!