Tuesday, November 07, 2006


I voted today. There really weren't any compelling races in my part of the country, and none at all with significance for the American political scene. But I voted anyway. I waited a long time to get the franchise, and I'm not letting it go to waste just because MSNBC doesn't give a crap.

To clarify, my 18th birthday fell two weeks after Election Day. On a campus of tens of thousands of students whose biggest choice was Coors or Shiner, I was not permitted to cast a ballot. The 26th Amendment didn't do me a whole lot of good. So I really make it a point to vote whenever I get the chance. I'm a political nerd, and I might as well commit to that.

As I said, the races on my ballot were fairly inconsequential. We had a race for governor, which featured the incumbent, who is patently corrupt, and the state treasurer, who has great potential for corruption. Naturally, I voted for the Green Party candidate. I'm always happy to scream impotently into the darkness. (I voted for Howard Dean in 2004 a month after he dropped out of the race.) I think the existing corrupt guy is going to win, but at least I don't have to take responsibility for it.

There were also approximately 963 pages of judicial retention votes, which I maintain is the single biggest reason for voter apathy in this country. Is this the case everywhere? I don't remember seeing all these damn judges when I voted in three other states. This has to be completely unnecessary, especially since they're all going to get retained. I took the trouble to actually do five minutes of research on them (including the write-in vote I cast for my alderman in the vain hope that she would take the hint and stop being my alderman), but I promise you almost no one else did. There are incompetent judges, and I'm not entirely convinced that the electorate is the right group to fix that.

The really big deal was that the touch-screen voting machines made their debut. Here in Illinois, we have the touch screens, and we have this system where you draw a line to complete the arrow of your choice. Bo-ring. Also, we had more problems with the arrow system, because polling places ran out of the special pens. Brilliant.

There's all kinds of complaint about the touch screens and how they're rigged or broken or whatever. I don't totally buy this, since we seem to have absolutely no problem using them to handle our money. But I do see how the stakes are a little higher with an election. So I think the biggest question is, do the things work?

I was prepared to ask for the touch screen, but there was practically no one voting, so they handed me my little voting ATM card without a word. Also, I was the youngest person there, so I think maybe they figured I'd give them the least amount of difficulty in figuring it out.

Honestly, I thought it worked swell. I could review all the categories at any time, and when I was done, a paper printout of my choices scrolled by, just so I could be sure that I got the vote I wanted. Admittedly, most of them were those damn judicial retentions, so I nearly passed out somewhere during Minute 15 of the scroll. But from my limited viewpoint, it all worked just fine. Then again, I always used to check my ballot for hanging chads.

As I write this, they're projecting that the Democrats will take over the House of Representatives, while retaining control of the Senate. I find this very exciting, since it means we could very well have our very first shrill Speaker of the House. (That's not a political slam. I just find Nancy Pelosi unbearable to listen to.) It also means that our government might have a check-and-balance system for the first time in six years. Call me nutty, but I think that's a good thing.

I take what I can get.


Paul Winston said...

You would think the capitol of technology - SF - would have the touch screen voting machines. But, alas, no. We still have to do the "complete the arrow" method then send these huge sheets thru the ScanTron.

As for the judicial retentions - I always vote "no." Hey, if they are going to ask my opinion on a lifetime appointment, I am going to make it difficult.

And now, the rest of the country gets a peek into what we in SF have "enjoyed" for years: The Pelosi Experience.