Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Well, I put out the flag this morning and went to the polling place to cast my ballot. I like going to the polling place. I've never exactly understood the "absentee ballot", unless you're in the Antarctic or the Marianas Trench or on the International Space Station or something like that. I mean, if you vote absentee, you miss out on the whole Voting Experience!

And what if something should happen between the day you mailed off your ballot and election day? What if your man died? Or said something extraordinarily stupid and revealing? Or what if you got whacked on the forehead and came to your senses? You'd never get another chance. At least not until next year.

By that logic I should just wait until the end of the day, right before the polls close, and rush in and cast the infernal thing, but no, I don't have the time, of course.

My wife and I vote together and make it a point to ceremoniously bring the kid along. We used to walk across the street and vote in my neighbor's garage, which was always entertaining, but this year he shut down the shop for some reason and we had to motivate to a local elementary school. Walking in to the auditorium we noticed that there were several precinct tables and we stopped, waiting for direction. The volunteers just looked up at us, and there was an immediate subtle confusion. We all had that "who are you and what are you doing here" look, and I felt an instinct to seize control of the situation, but I held back. I figured -let them do their jobs- but I had to find my way to the right table. I asked around a bit, and then let Mrs. Ditchman take over. I think they actually asked us, "Are you here to vote?" to which you want to reply with some intentional boat-rocking "Why, no! I am a representative from the United Nations and am here to certify procedures!" (in a South African accent) but they're all old and you take pity. The woman looking up our names was mostly deaf. The man next to her didn't have enough wheels turning to push a shopping cart. I signed the form. I was handed a democratic ballot. I am not a democrat. They didn't ask for identification.

It all worked out okay, though. I'd wondered for a moment why no touch screens, but hey: no brains, no touch screens. I got my cheerful "I Voted!" sticker, which is really the best part of the process, and I took an extra one and stuck it on the Little Ditchman, who can recite all the presidential nominees in the cutest way. Then I went back and voted for my guy ten more times. (Just kidding.)

But I swear I could have! Which is very disturbing. We live in a society where they check your I.D. if you get on an airplane or buy a beer, but hey, anyone can vote. And by "anyone" I mean it doesn't matter how dumb you are or what language you speak, which saddens me, somehow.

I won't bore you with who I chose or what propositions I was for and against, but I do think you should get out and vote. People died so you could vote, you know. But if you can't be bothered to read the measures and understand the issues, to learn about the candidates and check their qualifications, then don't vote. Please leave it to the people who actually care about this country.