Fellow voters, I declare the obvious, based on conclusive, first-hand, tangible, ethnographic reasearch: we're screwed.

In June, an earnest young woman with a clipboard and mismatched socks urged me to register to vote.

"Great!" Now I don't have to figure out where to go to fulfill this civic duty. Gave her my stats, my digits, coordinates of my abode and signature.

Jump to eight days before the national election. We receive a call from another earnest young woman from another nonprofit. She notifies me that 2057 names on the previous nonprofits list of registrants, did not, in fact, have registration forms submitted, and voter cards issued. And one of those disenfranchaised voters was me! ME! The one in our house who has been obsessed with the mechanizations of the 2004 election... ME!

My wife actually took the call and she said, "Oh, man, is he going to be pissed!!"

What to do!? I was informed to march down to the election office in downtown Pittsburgh and rectify the situation.

Cut to Tuesday. One week out from the election. County election office. Downtown. When the elevator door opened on the sixth floor, that is the moment I realized that we are screwed.

The first vision to smack the hapless disenfranchaised voter��stacks and stacks of arcane black briefcases with battered corners in columns from floor to ceiling and marching the length and breadth of the entire hallway.

Second impression when I was directed to the person who would address my problem... no line! Out of 2057 people notified that they needed to fix the situation in person, I was the only one there.

So, I explain the situation to Lisa, the young woman perched amidst a nest of binders and manilla envelopes in impressive clusters, stacks and piles. Lisa asks for pertinent date, clicks on the keyboard before her, and announces: "You ain't in the computer."

"I know, I registered back in June and they called me to let me know there is a problem, and that I should come her to fix it."

"They shoulda have turn'd in the registration earlier!" Lisa assessed. "You ain't got a voter card?"

"No, ma'am, that's why I am here. They called me Saturady to tell me to come here as soon as possible."

"Saturday!?!" Lisa spat beneath a wrinkled, disbelieving brow and cocked a wary eye. "They shoulda have called you way earlier than that!"

After more of this, a middle-aged bustling woman rescued me, diagnosed the problem and evolved a quick, direct solution. I would come to her office and she would get me a voter card. Great! Who was my savior? The Director of Elections? Secretary of State??? No.

Diane is the Chief Cartographer for the City of Pittsburgh. Thanks, Diane.