Yesterday was election day. Today is the day after and I feel like I have a political hangover.
I went to vote in the afternoon. The polling place was in a local church. Should we pray or should we vote?
My wife went with me. She went to the first person who crossed her name off a list. Then she went to the second person who had her sign a form. Then she was given her ballot. She took it into a small booth, punched holes in the IBM card. (Yes, we still use punched-card
ballots in our county, despite the debacle in Florida during the last Presidential election.) Then she deposited her ballot in the ballot box.
Next It’s my turn. The first person informs me that I was issued an absentee ballot and must turn that ballot in in order to vote. I won’t go into the details of why they think I have an absentee ballot, but the bottom line is: I don’t. So I have nothing to turn in. Therefore, I’m informed, I have to do a provisional ballot. It means they put my ballot in a pink envelope with my name on it and decide later whether to count it–based on whether they receive an
absentee ballot from me. Wouldn’t want me to vote twice. After I consult with the Democratic Party headquarters by cell phone to verify the correctness of this procedure, I punch and submit my provisional ballot.
Today the election results are in; they are not good.
Locally, “Measure ‘D'” to provide funding for new libraries in Palo Alto failed. A majority of voters were in favor of the measure, but not a 2/3 majority, required for any measure that would affect taxes. So we’ll have to continue to use our overcrowded existing library
buildings. Too bad, but I could think of worse election outcomes. For example…
On the state level, the Democratic incumbent governor, Gray Davis (His name matches his personality–utterly colorless.) won 49% of the vote. A plurality, but not the needed majority. I guess we’ll have a run-off election. I will say that I was pleased with the
results of the state ballot initiatives (where we get to vote on specific proposed changes to state law, the most truly democratic aspect of our so-called democratic system).
The national level was the major disaster. The Democratic Party lost control of both the House and the Senate. It means that Bush and his war-mongering rights-trampling henchmen will have a much freer reign. I guess voters are more interested kicking Al-Queda ass than they are in improving the economy. No one in either party seems to worry
much about maintaining our Constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms.
At least I can say I voted. Or can I? I know for certain my vote hasn’t been counted yet (because of the provisional ballot). It won’t be until all the absentee ballots are accounted for.
Those of us who vote like to think that our vote counts. But it is obvious to me that my vote didn’t. And won’t when they do get around to counting it. Worse, the fact that the counting of my vote is delayed doesn’t affect the final outcome. It means that in the end my delayed vote is just as significant (or insignificant) as if it had been counted yesterday.
Americans are taught by our culture to revere individuality. But experiences like mine seem to undermine the sense that an individual, in this case an individual voter, can make a difference.
Asian cultures, on the other hand teach to revere the group. The power of the group is clearly evidenced in an election. It is ironic that the most populous Asian country, China, has no meaningful vote. Maybe I’ll just move to China and avoid all of this. But I’ll be
sure to come back in time to vote in the next Presidential election. Of course I could just file an absentee ballot.
On second thought, I’ll just go back to bed and put an ice pack on my head.
Or I’ll go back to that church and pray for my country.