Friday, May 09, 2008
Best Vote Ever

I voted today! Yay on me! In Oregon, all elections are conducted by mail -- there are no polling places, no lines, no confusion about where to go and what to bring with you. You register to vote, and a few weeks before "election day", they send you a ballot. You fill it out when you feel like it, send it back in by the official election date, and that's it. The votes won't be counted until May 20, so there's an element of delayed gratification, but in exchange you get time to contemplate and study your choices as thoroughly as you like. It's a brilliant and frankly fucking obvious system, simpler and more efficient (and more secure) than the electronic voting that half the country seems to be rushing towards blindly and stupidly.

Voting in Mississippi was always an exercise in frustration. There would be the usual ballot-full of choices, but they all amounted to voting for an old white christian conservative. The only real difference between one candidate and another would be one of degree -- the slightly less aggressively Christian conservative would be running as the democrat. Vermont, curiously, had the inverse problem -- there you were just picking one of a mob of old hippies. In both instances, no matter who won, you knew what you were going to get.

Which isn't to say that I didn't put in the effort. During the 2000 election, I took on the job of coordinating absentee voting for all the Americans at my school in London, making the trek to the US Embassy not once but three times. Mississippi made it fucking annoying to vote -- it seemed as though every move I made required notarization and four weeks of waiting. In the end, I got a slip of cardboard, a sheet of foam backing, and a bit of wire I was supposed to use to break a chad out of the card next to Al Gore's name. And we all know what happened after that.

In 2004, I was working in Hot Springs on election day, but took the morning off to drive home, vote, and drive back to finish the day. That, I think, was the worst vote ever. It sucked on pretty much every possible level.

This year has been stunning in that, for the first time in my lifetime, I feel like I have something to vote for, rather than a litany of crimes to vote against. I'm enthusiastic about the process. I have the rare luxury (though supposedly my right) of voting for the person I think is best for the job -- and I actually did. More incredibly, I find myself voting in an election that matters for the first time in decades, and voting for an historic candidate as well. I feel like this is the first vote I've ever cast that actually counts for something.

Today I voted for a tiny dude with a big-ass shiny hook for a hand for democratic nominee for US Senator; I voted for a slightly dandy gay guy who's named after beer for Mayor;* and I cast one of the votes that'll finally secure the Democratic nomination for Barack Obama. I filled in my little ovals sitting on my bed, taking time to look up candidates I didn't know online, with my ballot resting on my book about Weimar-era sexual perversion.

It was the best fucking vote ever. The only one that might top it will be the one in November.

*Please note, I voted for both based primarily on non-hook and non-gay/beer-related issues. Those qualities just happened to seal the deal for me. I mean, how many chances do you get to elect a wee pirate to national office?
11:48 PM ::
Amy :: permalink