The New York voting machine is a wonderfully antediluvian monstrosity. It consists of a giant and sprawling white board depicting all known candidates for all open offices — divided in tabular form by party, including the Socialist Workers Party — with a gigantic red lever that, upon sliding quite powerfully to the left, makes you feel as if you’ve put in an order from an Automat menu. Alas, I did not receive a days-old sandwich in a triangular plastic carton. But I was offered a donut. I’ve never been offered a donut while standing in line to vote. So this was certainly a plus.
I informed a chatty but amicable gentleman behind me that there was free ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s and free coffee at Starbuck’s. He thought I wasn’t serious. I told him that I was very serious, and that I was known to temporarily change my dietary habits on Election Day. I told him that I was prone to screaming at 2 AM in the streets while the results came in. Yes, I said, I am a very serious voter. So serious that I will drink the blood of a rat if it will give me extra energy to vote.
He tried to tell me who he was going to vote for, and I told him that this was unethical and that I would make a citizen’s arrest if he continued. He concealed his partisan button and insinuated that he was wearing underwear that included the name of his candidate. I told him that I approved of his right to run around the streets of New York wearing underwear, or indeed nothing at all. We should all experience the fantastic sensation of a gust of wind drifting up our ass crack. But I would still make a citizen’s arrest if he was wearing political underwear within 100 feet of the polling place. He told me that this wouldn’t be a problem, and we then carried on a conversation about the typography of the Dunkin Donuts logo.
I did manage to place my vote. On the way out, I asked one of the election workers if she required a tip. She pointed me to the exit door and told me to get out — thus cementing in my mind the idea of the polling place as a harried diner. I feel very happy about my decision, but I’m still wondering if I should go back to the polling place and ask for a sandwich.
I’m quite happy that I voted. But I am finding that I am experiencing severe proposition withdrawal. You see, back in California, I was accustomed to a considerable number of local and state propositions on the ballot: anywhere from twenty to fifty. If you couldn’t get another person to agree on a candidate, you could always find some middle ground through one of the crazy props. But in New York, I only had one proposition to vote for: a middling measure on veterans benefits. There was nothing on the ballot for gay rights, nothing that involved naming a sewage treatment plant after George Bush. Presumably, either current government policy or the lack of space on the voting machine’s big board hinders numerous proposition options from presenting themselves to the public. I had not anticipated the sacrifice of my propositions upon moving to New York. I don’t know if there’s much I can do to make up for the missing propositions other than to make impassioned pleas at government meetings.
But I did research all the candidates. And I did vote. Barring a major scandal or the almost total capitulation of the public’s senses, the man I voted for will likely be our next President.
The time has come to drink and wait it all out. This will be something of a nailbiter.
© 2008, Edward Champion. All rights reserved.