Today we tried to vote by mail. Florida has already proved that it handles that well, but just to be on the safe side, we had planned to use the ballot drop box at our local library, which is an early voting site.
For the record, on principle I don't like early voting, and would rather use mail-in voting only when I'm out of town for Election Day. But with this being such an important election, and figuring that the odds were higher in this year than most for something cropping up to prevent our getting to our local polling place on November 3, voting early seemed the better part of valor.
Here's the warning I promised in the title: Mark your ballot clearly, but don't go overboard. I filled out the first page of my ballot neatly with a fine-point black Sharpie, which seemed to be doing a good job—until I turned the page over to fill in the other side. The ink had bled through from the first side, making the second side full of those "stray marks" we are always warned against. Rather than get a new mail-in ballot, we decided to vote in person.
Porter stood at the end of the line while I took care of my business with the library itself. That took longer than expected, so I thought he would have made a lot of progress, but that was far from the case. However, he had learned about another early voting place that was reputed to be not as crowded, and was near my favorite GFS foodstore and on the way to picking up our car from getting its faulty airbag replaced ... so that's what we did.
The voting went smoothly: there were lots of people, but it was a big room efficiently run, so there was almost no waiting. They cancelled our mail-in ballots, had us sign in on the screen with these cute little disposable "pens" that looked suspiciously like fancy Q-Tips, and gave us sanitized pens for filling in our ballots.
I really do feel more comfortable watching my votes be recorded right then and there. And I'm glad to have gotten the job done.
But if you're going to vote by mail, do be careful what kind of pen you use.