The rituals of voting

Early on Monday morning I am making my way over to city hall to cast my ballot in the 2006 election. Election day is for chumps and for political novices, all of who wait in a line because they just don’t know any better. Almost every major metropolitan area has an extended early voting period where you can go in and vote at designated locations OR fill out and mail in an absentee ballot (even if you aren’t really absent but just lazy). I believe in voting early and voting often (although I don’t vote often in the same election because that would be illegal and would come back to screw me someday when my opponent reveals my sordid past to the electorate). The truth is I am fairly certain that I am currently on voter rolls in Michigan, Maryland, Colorado, Texas, and California.

Voting is a multi-step process. You can’t just show show up and start punching holes or touching screens willy-nilly. Democracy would collapse if that’s all it took. Some would say it already has. Here is my process in several steps:

1) Research: I tune out every television and radio advertisement and delete any voice messages that campaign workers have left on my phone. Rubbish. All of it. Lucky for us voters, every state has a voter education website(s) that can teach us about each issue and candidate from scratch. The California ballot has about 30 elected positions, a dozen state measures and a few local measures. What I thought would be a daunting task of researching, only took me 45 minutes. The website I used was The California Voter Foundation. I am sure that Taz will leave a comment soon that will help you find similar websites for each of your states (although Google might work as well). This website had a brief synopsis of each proposition including a non-partisan analysis and pro and con arguments from each side. It also showed me what prominent figures were for and against each proposition and who the financial backers were. Follow the money.

2) Talk to friends and family about what they think of the issues: Voting is supposed to be fun and build a sense of community. We can practice here on SM if you’d like. Forget all the desi candidates across the country for just a minute. Ballot measures are as important as candidates. Are there any issues local to you that you wish more people knew about? Out here Proposition 87 is the big headline grabber:

Former vice president Al Gore came to Berkeley Monday to support the “Yes on 87″ campaign.

Prop. 87 promises to end California’s dependence on foreign oil with cleaner, cheaper alternatives such as wind, solar and biofuels that will improve the economy and reduce air pollution that causes asthma, lung disease and cancer. At the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park rally, Gore emphasized that half of California’s foreign oil comes from the Middle East. [Link]

A couple weeks ago former President Clinton was in town for a Prop 87 rally. My mom really wanted to go see Clinton so we went to the rally.

As close as we could get to #42.

Now if I can just get my mom to vote.

3) Make sure that you are counted: There is almost always a way to cast a provisional ballot should you show up to what you thought was your polling place and it turns out they’ve never heard of you. Don’t freak out but make sure that they find a way to accommodate you. As for me, I am much more worried that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is really a pro-Bush CIA operative who is going to change my vote:

The federal government is investigating the takeover last year of a leading American manufacturer of electronic voting systems by a small software company that has been linked to the leftist Venezuelan government of President Hugo Chávez.

The inquiry is focusing on the Venezuelan owners of the software company, the Smartmatic Corporation, and is trying to determine whether the government in Caracas has any control or influence over the firm’s operations, government officials and others familiar with the investigation said.

The inquiry on the eve of the midterm elections is being conducted by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or Cfius, the same panel of 12 government agencies that reviewed the abortive attempt by a company in Dubai to take over operations at six American ports earlier this year.[Link]

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4) Pump yourself up: Voting is hot and most people look more attractive with an “I just voted” sticker on their chest. Granted that we don’t get to dip our fingers in purple ink, but still. To get pumped I like to give myself a motivational speech while looking in the mirror just prior to going to city hall. Here is this year’s motivational speech that I just finished writing:

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all macacas are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Virgina the sons of former Quarterbacks and the sons of former IT workers will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that fellow macacas will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

Happy Voting Y’all. And for those of you wondering, I will be wearing my “I just voted” sticker tomorrow. Rrrrrrrrr.

See related post: The Desi Vote. 2006.

15 thoughts on “The rituals of voting

  1. Bubba is my baby-daddy. I’m jealous. Michigan voters (where I am still registered though I reside in New York): DeVos is no good.

  2. I am sure that Taz will leave a comment soon that will help you find similar websites for each of your states (although Google might work as well).

    Of course, my dear.

    Project Vote Smart – One stop shop for each state.

  3. Is’nt it about time people voted on the internet or via text message? Physically going somewhere to vote is so .. 20th century.

  4. 4) Pump yourself up: Voting is hot and most people look more attractive with an “I just voted” sticker on their chest. Granted that we don’t get to dip our fingers in purple ink, but still. To get pumped I like to give myself a motivational speech while looking in the mirror just prior to going to city hall.

    Voting is weird when you’re in a church. Where I live, most of the polling places are run by churches and affiliated religious institutions. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been inside of a church, and two of the times has been for voting. Just being in the place and looking around is overwhelming enough – it certainly doesn’t help that the whole thing is conducted by these really old white men decked out in patriotic gear. Hmmm.

  5. here in oregon we’re all doing mail in The major source of electoral fraud in the US is mail in ballots.

    BUT voting by mail is HIGHLY effective, and results in a higher turnout rate. I encourage everyone in CA to register to vote with the Permanent Absentee Voter option – It means an absentee ballot comes to you by mail every election (until you miss two). LA & OC provide mutli-lingual voter materials, (no desi languages though) so when people do get absentee ballots, they are limited english – but have all the info they need in their mother tongue – they are morel likely to vote. And to vote smart.

    In the OC btw, 60% + of their vietnamese voters turnout to vote by absentee. This is HUGE.

  6. BUT voting by mail is HIGHLY effective, and results in a higher turnout rate.

    Which leads to an interesting conundrum. Is turnout for the sake of turnout the right thing to be pursuing? Or is it better to have a lower turnout with less fraud? Arguably, the 50-60% of Americans who do turn out to vote still produce a representative sample of the population, and hence the results aren’t significantly different (I don’t necessarily believe that this is true, but it certainly may be). If that’s the case, isn’t it better trade turnout for more trustworthy results?

  7. Do any of those decisions involve losing playoff series when you come in as a favorite (occasionally overwhelmingly so)? If so, maybe you should find other representations ;-)

  8. would come back to screw me someday when my opponent reveals my sordid past to the electorate

    abhi for president 2032!

    and we all thought sepia mutiny exists for our internet-delight…but nefarious abhi has OTHER plans up his sleeve…. ;)

  9. It pains me to see no mention of web based voting in current dialogue on electronic voting and voting reform. What’s the obsession with having to have a paper trail? Why can’t their be an electronic record? One social security number, one vote, keep the answers in a secure database that only the voter can access later. Why can’t this supplement the present system? Why does it have to be either or? Keep the paper ballot system, just add a web based one for people who don’t have time to vote, but whose opinion is probably atleast as important as the people with time to vote.

    The only argument i can think of against web based voting is that it will be too effective. And no one is making that argument.

    The problem is there are no pro web based voting people out there…

    prove me wrong sepia folks.