November 10, 2011

November 10, 2011

'Tis the Season

Tuesday was Election Day in Virginia. Despite the fact that 2011 is a pretty quiet year around here, I voted. Democracy is the best system we have until the robots turn sentient, and I like to support it every year. Plus, they give me candy and a sticker.

Ideally, I would be allowed to vote absentee in Wisconsin for the rest of my life. Moving away from my hometown has showed me that I you can never really connect to a municipality unless you learned to read and drive there. While Virginia is a lovely vice-ridden state,* the only bits of its infrastructure I care about are the roads and the libraries. This is the lot of a single person without child or property. It’s hard to care about who’s ruling the schools, hospitals, and law enforcement when you don’t use any of those things.

Nonetheless, I won’t let my lack of standing keep me from the candy and the sticker. It’s best to have a backup plan when you vote. Some people write in things like “Mickey Mouse” or “99%” or that symbol that Prince used to go by. Some people vote for the first name. You get the idea.

Me? In races where I have no strong feeling, I vote for the Republican. (Am I the only person you know who has voted in times past for both Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin?) In non-partisan races, I vote for the incumbent. (I’m a Republican: no news is good news when it comes to elected officials.)

Though parties (when applicable) and incumbents were ALWAYS CLEARLY MARKED in Milwaukee, I pride myself on doing just enough homework and sample ballot studying to make sure that I know what to expect when I step up to the futuristic Vote-a-tron 4000 here in Virginia. Between not knowing the local corridors of power and working that machine, it can be a bit much.

This year: utter fail.

The first two races on the ballot were for state representatives, with clearly marked parties. No problem.

The final race on the ballot was for clerk of courts. No parties were denoted. The incumbent was not denoted. I had not done any homework on this race, nor had I seen signs, advertisements, or campaign workers.

I concluded that we had a rare breed here: the incumbentless non-partisan race for an office not high enough to warrant significant press.

Crap.

Luckily for me, my mojo kicked in and I ended up voting for the Republican anyway. Close one.

There were no poll workers at the exit table, so I didn’t know what to do. Remember from a prior experience that they are VERY PICKY about what you do after you have voted. I was afraid that if I just threw away my voter code, took a sticker, and left, they’d be on me like [insert Herman Cain joke here]. But after another voter mistook me for a poll worker and thanked me, I threw caution to the wind.

However, I have saved the best for last. Here, the conversation I had with that voter while walking out of the building:

He pulls out his wallet and shows me a faded sticker on its cover.
Him: Now I can replace last year’s sticker.
I’m very impressed that he still has the sticker from last year.
Me: Wow, good for you!
Him: Actually, I think this is the sticker from 2008.
I quickly walk away.

First of all: ew. Second of all: you haven’t voted since 2008? 2008?! There have been at least two major elections since then and now, dude! You know what they call people who only make an effort once every few years? Members of Congress. C’mon, man.

(Note that if I had accidentally voted for the democratic Clerk of Courts—who happened to be the incumbent—this entry would have been titled “The Accidental Democrat.”)

* Case in point: this recent “Vices of Virginia” event, where people drank wine, smoked cigars, and sold relatives into indentured servitude. Or two of the three.

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