My Accidental Participation in Democracy
By Steve Gillman - September 18, 2014
This is my mostly true story of
a trip to the polls...
One November morning I went to our local public library to
get a book. You know, one of those square things made out of
pieces of paper that have things printed on them. Anyhow, as
soon as I got out of the car and saw the gauntlet I would have
to walk through I realized it was Election Day (which is apparently
important enough to be capitalized according to my grammar checker).
There are laws stipulating that political activities have to
be a certain distance from the polls, but our library has a long
covered walkway leading to the door, providing just enough barely-legal
space for a dozen red-faced people to loudly educate us citizens.
(Flickr photo by Katy
I took the pamphlets that were handed to me because well...
you have to if you want to pass by without the voices getting
louder. I glanced at the political sales pitches briefly once
inside. Mostly they explained how wrong the other side was. As
near as I could tell, if we are to believe their opponents, here
is what the parties intend to do...
- Republicans plan to cut all programs for the poor so their
wealthy campaign donors can use the tax savings to hunt baby
- Democrats plan to raise taxes just for the sheer pleasure
of watching us taxpayers suffer and to destroy the country they
- Libertarians want to privatize Congress and sell seats to
the highest bidder.
I'm pretty sure that last one has already been done.
The atmosphere was festive inside, somewhat like I imagine
it was back when people still got together for public hangings
or witch burnings. A sweet old lady approached me with a smile
and asked if I was there to vote. She had volunteered to help
out despite her frailty, and I felt bad saying no, so I decided
to get in the line she pointed to. I suppose if we are going
to have mob rule I might as well be in the mob. Of course if
we are going to have mob rule we will have to call it something
else. Democracy! There... doesn't that feel better?
The wait wasn't long, and for some reason since forgotten
I was actually on the list of registered voters when I got to
the table at the head of the line. They gave me a folder with
a ballot in it and I was led by another old volunteer to a voting
booth. I wonder how elections will work when this last generation
of voting poll volunteers is no longer above ground. My guess
is that there will be robots involved -- and I like the thought.
I won't feel bad saying no to a robot.
I opened up the folder and laid out the ballot, which apparently
had been stored in a building that had rats. I surmised this
from the two piles of rat poop stuck to it. Interestingly, they
exactly covered the names of the top two candidates for president,
making them unreadable. I considered asking for a new ballot,
but then I realized that it really didn't matter.
Oh, okay, maybe it does matter. My friends tell me it does.
Even if I don't like either candidate it is supposed to be my
social duty to choose, right? And the candidates are never exactly
the same, so I can find some reason to pick one over the other.
I looked again and realized that my friends were right after
all. The poop piles really did have differences. One was kind
of black and white and the other more of a gray color. It seems
to me that gray is more reasonable in political matters, but
I still wasn't sure.
How does one measure such things? I sniffed them, but they
both seemed to stink equally. It wasn't even easy to just pick
the smaller pile of poop. One covered a larger area, but the
other had more depth, so it was probably heavier. I poked at
them with my pen and looked more closely, but no amount of analysis
could get me excited about voting for one or the other.
Fortunately, in the end I was saved by a third option. It
seems that one of the poll workers had blown her nose on the
ballot, and there was a large piece of snot glued to it. Interestingly
the big green gob exactly covered the name of one of the fringe-party
candidates. I marked the box next to it. A big booger didn't
seem as bad as either pile of rat poop.