Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I Almost Voted. I Think.

Well it has happened again.

Faced with a new device that performs a well-established function, I again went into Consternation Mode. This is happening so frequently that I suspect yet another of my brain functions has wandered off. Last week it was my run in with the McCormick salt grinder (see Salt Shaker Blues). This week it was the voting booth that bamboozled me.

Like putting salt on my food, I really thought I had this one down. Califon is a small town so every vote counts. That’s why I try to vote in every election. It’s not like it’s something new to me.

And I really wanted to weigh in on this the most important Presidential election in years.
This being so important and all, you might think I would have troubled myself to read the voting instructions on the sample ballot that was mailed before the election. You would be wrong. In the first place, I don’t usually read directions unless I break something that I am operating without having read the directions. In the second place, the ballot went out with the recycling on Monday.

As I enter the electronic voting booth I am faced with the ballot. What I do not see is any obvious box or button that I can push to place my vote. Immediately I am in Consternation Mode. I resort to reading the directions. It says to push the button to the right of the candidate's name to record your vote. Still not seeing a box, I push next to the candidate of my choice’s name. A green light goes on at the top of the column, but I see no indication next to the name that I have placed my vote for him. If I push again, the green light goes off. Now I hear the impatient shuffling of feet outside the booth. I fear I am seconds away from hearing the booming voice of the chief election lady cry out “WHAT IS HE DOING IN THERE!!!.

Now I am in Panic Mode. I cannot believe that I am screwing up voting. I push a bunch of buttons, record my vote, and leave the booth. The only vote I am absolutely positive I registered was for a public question that “provides that method of selection and appointment of certain municipal judges be set by statute rather than by the constitution.” This is a very important issue I am sure, but not why I shaved and put on a clean shirt to come out and voice my opinion.

Later in the day, I am telling Elisabeth about my difficulties executing my democratic privilege. She tells me not to worry because Oprah had problems with the voting booth as well.

I wondered if her problems were similar to mine. That evening I saw an interview with her and she said she was so excited about the prospect of Obama becoming President that she was “throbbing” and “pulsating.” Well I was for Obama as well (now it can be revealed), but I was not suffering from this condition. I was in the booth long enough that I think the chief election lady suspected I was throbbing and pulsating in there, but I was not. In some situations I do throb and pulsate, like when I am thinking about my supper, but I voted in mid-morning so this was not a factor. Being familiar with the condition, I could sympathize with Oprah if she was afflicted while in the voting booth.

In any case, the election was a rout so it didn’t matter. As the old Chinese proverb says: “All leaves fly before a strong wind.” Actually, this is not a Chinese proverb. I just made it up as I am sitting here watching my neighbors strategically placed pile of leaves blow into my yard.

I am beginning to throb and pulsate.

1 comment:

Mary Lois said...

I went into the voting booth and couldn't figure out how to use it. I said, "I can't do this thing!" and the lady outside said, "You can't understand it?" and I said "Yes, help me," so she came into the booth and showed me how. You touch the button next to the name you want to vote for and then at the bottom of the frame of the ballot there's a button that says "CAST VOTE" and you push that. "That's easy," I said, and voted, remembering the time in NYC when I planned to vote for John Lindsey and pulled the curtains closed, looked at the ballot with my hand on that handle, pushed it the other way and opened the curtains again. "You lost your vote," said the attendant.

In both cases of lost votes, our candidates won.

You can always say you voted. Except that now it's on the Internet and the whole world knows the truth.