Voter On A Mission

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I saw my wife off to work and my daughter off to school this morning from our home in the hill country North of San Antonio, Texas. I donned a sweater, got in my pickup and headed out for the Volunteer Fire Dep't. station where I could cast my vote. I was highly motivated for the 5 mile drive, having written about American politics and this Election Day for over a year now. I arrived and got in line. I was the 41st person in line at 7:15 AM. I wondered how long I would have to wait.

After about 5 minutes I realized it was going to be a long wait since the line had not moved, at all. I took out my notebook and jotted down some notes about all this and decided I would use the time constructively by paper blogging the notes I would use to blog my voting experience later at home with my loving keyboard seeking my scintillating tap, tappety tap fingertips. All of a sudden, just a minute after note taking had begun, a woman came outside and spoke in a small voice we all strained to hear. She said "If your last name starts with N through Z, there is no waiting, please come inside". Finally, after 54 years, having a last name starting with the letter "R" paid off and worked to my advantage.

I walked briskly with long strides and became 2nd in line to receive my ballot at a new processing table opened up. The gentleman in front moved away and it was my turn. I felt proud as I submitted my registration card in hand to the small lady seated behind the table. She smiled briefly before taking my registration card in hand at which time the smile disappeared as my registration card was checked, perused, mused over, turned over, turned back over, and finally accepted as valid, complete with signature and all. The little lady behind the table stamped a line on a computer print out that already had my name on it, handed my registration card back to me at which time her smile returned as she told me I was an Approved, Prime Grade, #1, Red Blooded, Bona Fide, American Voter with those exquisite words, "take a ballot". I was in.

I picked up a ballot from a stack sitting on the table. It felt like pretty hefty card stock, which was fine because I was going to make a substantial vote here, might as well be on substantial paper stock. I took one step right to move toward the voting station, when that demure little voice from behind the table suddenly became voluminous as she said, "SIR, did you take two ballots?" My feet stopped, my heart jumped to my throat, as I immediately connected the unfamiliar heavy paper stock of the ballot with the question ringing out just a few feet from my ears. I realized she was addressing me. I turned toward her and dumbly and clumsily feathered the edge of the ballot to see if I did indeed have two ballots.

But, there was no separation. I tried it again, and noticed her facial expression demanding a response had not changed. Still no separation, but, now her facial expression changed slightly to a scowl. I said in reply, "Not sure" to buy more time and try again to separate what she apparently thought were two ballots. Then, as the two sheets began to separate against the raking of my thumb, my cheeks began to flush, and suddenly I felt too warm in my sweater, as I separated the sheets and handed her the bottom one back. "Sorry!" I said as I headed quickly to the voting booth with 60 pairs of eyes drilling into the back of my now hot fall colored sweater. I told myself, hey, it was an honest mistake, I knew that, even if everyone else in the room wondered what pinko communist country I had come from with my long hair and beard to subvert the American electoral system.

But, I was born in America and I was on a mission, and we all know an American on a mission will not be deterred. I shrugged that whole 30 second episode off as I began to appraise the ballot and formulate a plan for casting this most significant vote. First item on the ballot, Straight Party Vote. A check mark here gave me the choice to make a single mark and cast my vote for all of the Republicans or all of the Democrats running for office on the ballot. Being a proud independent voter, I rejected that option immediately. Next item, Presidential Candidate. There was a line for Bush, one for Kerry, and one for Badnarik, followed by a blank space. Easy choice. I followed Blank Space over to the right where I had to connect the broken arrow with the provided black felt tipped pen. Done, Blank Space was now guaranteed a place in history.

No. Wait! I came here to vote for Ralph Nader. What the hell? They didn't put my hero, Ralph Nader, on the ballot. I know he is running for President, he emailed me and asked for money, and I sent it to him. I know he is running. Oh, yeah! Blank Space. Hah! I never wrote in a candidate before like Pat Paulson or Mickey Mouse. Now I get it. So, I proudly wrote in bold letters in the Blank Space, Mr. Ralph Nader.

Following Blank Space, there was a long list of offices with names next to them. A few I recognized, but, most of them I never heard of. OK. Forget names. I will look at party affiliation as a guide. First item, a Republican, a Democrat, and a Libertarian. Here we go again. No Green Party candidate. But wait! There is also no Blank Space. Now what do I do? I will be damned if I will vote for Republicans or Democrats who have driven my national debt to 7.4 Trillion dollars. No Green Party. Hmmm! I scanned all of the rest of the offices, and there were many with Republican and Libertarian, (hardly any Democrats - Texas you know).

Then, a light bulb went off in my head. Ralph Nader is a third party candidate. So is this Libertarian Badnarik guy. Aha! A solution presented itself. The Green Party wasn't going to take over as the public's first choice this election anyway, so, why not vote for this Badnarik guy and give some third party candidate a boost? Brilliant, I thought. It will take a vote away from the Republocrats, strengthen a third party, and I can let the Greens and Libertarians fight it out when they become the major political parties in a decade or two. Alright! This is Good! I left unopposed Republican candidate's arrows broken and filled in every Libertarian arrow on the ballot. Now that was a significant vote!

The last item on the ballot was a local county initiative. If I vote yes, I vote for freezing property taxes at their current level for any property owner who reaches the age of 65, or if deceased, their spouse owner of the property if the spouse too is over 65. If I vote no, property taxes keep going up year after year for property owners over 65 years old. My property taxes have been going up about 7% per year. Fortunately our income has been going up too. Now, I am a fiscal conservative, but there is no way I want to see retired folks on fixed incomes evicted from their homes because property taxes keep going up every year faster than the inflation rate. I am 54 after all, only ten and a half years away from 65. I aimed my pen for the broken 'Yes' arrow to make it unbroken with my powerful felt pen, when a thought stayed my hand midway.

I live in a rural area in the center of Texas. There are a whole bunch of wealthy Ranchers out here who own from many hundreds to thousands of acres of land, and cattle, and horses, and have an asset value of millionaires. Do I want them to benefit from this? I looked again and the proposition had some mumbo jumbo about the Homestead Act and all references were to property, not Homeowners.

Was this ballot initiative dreamed up by a bunch of Republican millionaire land owners in the county? Or, was it the brainchild of a bunch of bleeding heart liberal Democrats trying to do some good for old folks with a mobile home on a lot living off of Social Security. Damn! Why didn't I hear about this before? I suddenly felt dumb. Stupefied! Deceived! How can I make an informed choice about an issue I have no history on, and don't know who authored it?

Then I accepted the fact that I can't. I can't make an informed choice on this issue. So, I thought, all I can do is make a self-interested choice. I am going to be 65 in a decade, and if this initiative passes, I will benefit by having my property taxes frozen until I die. OK! While a selfish choice is no where near as good as an informed choice, it is certainly better than no choice at all. I filled in the broken arrow on the 'Yes' option.

I put down the pen, picked up the ballot, and turned to take it to the ballot gobbler machine. I quickly scanned the room for the gobbler, and I also noticed no one was staring at me anymore. Good. Ahh! There is the gobbler, just a few feet from me. I walked over confidently, having voted with this apparatus before, insured my ballot was face up, slid it into the gobbler slot on the blue and gray machine, where it promptly sucked my ballot in with a shredding sound and a loud thud that came back like a loud belch.

Done! I have voted. I have left my mark on the face of America's political landscape. I felt relieved and proud, threw my shoulders back, held my head high, and strode prominently out the building, around the corner, and over to my pickup truck. I got in, put my seatbelt on, turned the engine on, lowered my head, placed my palms together, and prayed that that shredding sound was not what it sounded like.

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This page contains a single entry by David R. Remer published on November 2, 2004 4:26 PM.

Your vote - What it Will Mean was the previous entry in this blog.

Too Close to Call is the next entry in this blog.

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