My Accidental Participation in Democracy

By - 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 Warner)

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 seals.
  • Democrats plan to raise taxes just for the sheer pleasure of watching us taxpayers suffer and to destroy the country they live in.
  • 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.

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