“Hi, Mrs. Jacobs? I know I was supposed to be there around 2:00 p.m. to fix your furnace, but I went to vote and the line is pretty long, so maybe put on a sweater, and I’ll see you around 3:15 p.m. instead, OK?”

Have any of you ever called the customer and … nah, I didn’t think so. Which leads to a question: How do you vote?

This isn’t about a party or a candidate — I mean how do you fit in casting a ballot on Election Day? Owners and field techs know that time not spent on a call is potential revenue that evaporates like refrigerant. (Maybe that’s not the best comparison, since evaporating refrigerant is most definitely on the job.)

Some people have jobs that are not scheduled so thoroughly across a given day. They can shuffle a couple of things around. I’m guessing very few of those people make service calls for a living.

Even if a field tech were able to take a fairly long break — maybe someone cancels and the next customers can’t reschedule — there’s another hurdle: location. An unexpected 45-minute gap in the schedule isn’t much help if the day has taken a tech 30 minutes away from home. It’s not like someone can just drop into the nearest polling place.

So, what’s the plan, then?

Crack-of-dawn voting? Most days in the HVAC contracting business already start pretty early.

Not voting at all? Say it ain’t so. I mean, there’s democracy and stickers and everything. (It wouldn’t hurt to take a page from blood drives and bring in some cookies and juice.)

Absentee voting or early voting? Early voting has gained some traction, but these opportunities can vary quite a bit from state to state. Where I live, there is no early voting, technically, but a registered voter can “vote absentee in person.”

The hitch is that citizens around here would still need to attest to one of the “reason codes” for voting absentee. There are quite a few codes, ranging from religious obligations to being a first responder to being in jail awaiting trial. None of them, however, is “I’m, you know, really busy.”

The closest acceptable code is “I am working and commuting to/from home for 11 or more hours between 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. on Election Day.”

Even then, the state requires the name of the employer and the citizen’s specific hours of working/commuting for that day. Commuting merely 30 minutes each way, then working eight hours, not to mention maybe you have a kid’s function to attend on Tuesday and might like to eat somewhere in between all of that? Sorry, that’s not legitimate. Get in line by the “polls close” time or you’re out of luck.

(In case you didn’t know, just being in line when they “close” is good enough, and you’re legally allowed to vote if you can afford to wait.)

Just like states have different early voting conditions, some are more supportive than others by making Election Day an official holiday. Nationally, we vote on Tuesday because back in 1845(!), more of the population’s work was agricultural, and Tuesday avoided both market day (Monday) and worship days.

Times have changed. Fewer people work in farming these days; more people update their cellphone every two or three years. We should update the mechanics of refreshing our republic to accommodate the citizens trying to keep this grand experiment going. We could change the day of the week, or we could make it a national holiday. We could require paid time to vote (some states have done this). Until then, shoot me a quick email and tell me what you do.

Lastly, in the “you didn’t hear it from me” department: Looking over those absentee voter codes again, I notice that Reason Code 2C is “My pregnancy.” Unlike many of the individual codes, there is no supporting information required for claiming Reason Code 2C.

So, guys out there, if you want to roll the dice with your local registrar’s sense of humor and you’re the kind of person who likes to stir the pot …

Publication date: 11/5/2018

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