Las Vegas voting experience: Albertson’s, banana bread and a beauty queen

2012 Miss Nevada Alana Lee at the arrival ceremony for the 2012 Miss America Pageant at Planet Hollywood on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012.
Photo: Christopher DeVargas

My Las Vegas voting experience was not today. It was a week ago Saturday at an early voting polling station at Albertson’s on Eastern Avenue and Warm Springs Road.

There was no line or mass of early voters at this poling place at this time, which was mid-afternoon. I was told that I’d just missed a rush of people, and volunteers were taking a breather and passing around little loaves of banana bread brought in by one of the bakers in their group. I pushed my nose up, like Pepe Le Pew, following the bread with my face and hinting none-too-subtly that I might like a slice.

Instead, I was handed my plastic card, my voting debit card. I felt a presence behind me as I walked over to my black-hooded machine. I turned in the card and was handed my circular “I Voted” sticker, which I feel can be used as a badge to ward against having to watch any more televised campaign ads.

The person behind me also grabbed a sticker, and I somehow recognized her voice when she said, “Thank you so much.”

I turned, and facing me was Alana Lee. She is the 2011 Miss Nevada America winner and a contestant in the 2012 Miss America Pageant at Planet Hollywood. I’d remembered talking to her in the run-up to January’s pageant at the Theater for the Performing Arts.

“I have interviewed you!” I told her, reintroducing myself. She did remember the session at P.H. when the full 53-contestant field was introduced in Las Vegas.

As we stood just a few feet from a magazine rack filled with celebrity gossip pubs, Lee said she rarely visits that particular grocery store and asked why I would shop there instead of Walmart. “Brand loyalty and convenience,” I said, noting that this store was near my home and also because Albertson’s started in Idaho, where my family is from. True. The site of the first Albertson’s, in Boise, is about 2 miles from my mom’s house.

Lee said I should peel off my sticker and wear it, immediately.

“Wear it with pride!” she said.

But I put off wearing the sticker until today, Election Day. I didn’t want to jinx my action. I have it stuck to my shirt now, and I hope Alana Lee does, too. She once represented our entire state in nationwide competition, but our votes count the same. Somehow I would not be surprised to know that they canceled each other out.

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