Democracy's fine, it's voting that's the hassle

November 08, 2000

Democracy's fine, it's voting that's the hassle

There's one thing I hate about elections: Voting. It makes me feel all sticky.

I know, patriotic duty, solemn right, cornerstone of democracy, etc., etc. But I'm not the only one obligated to uphold an end of the bargain here.

Shouldn't it be the patriotic, solemn, cornerstoned duty of the process to provide me with the opportunity to vote for a presidential candidate who is inspiring? Must filling in a blank always make me feel like I've just slipped my hand into a bucket of goo?

Like my friend Kim says, voting is like giving blood, they should give you juice and cookies afterwards. Just so you don't feel weak.


The final insult was when I got to my precinct polling place and there was a line. A line. That's never happened. I expect that kind of inconvenience at the MVA, but not at the ballot box. Well, I did what any persevering, right thinking American would do: I said "forget this" and left.

I went back later, but only because voting allows me the bi-annual chance to see all my poll workers, who are truly a wonderful and dedicated group of people.

And yes, I do value my citizenship and my country enough to make the effort, even if I'm not thrilled with the choices.

So I had tried to sell my vote on eBay, but the best offer I got was a trade for a Hellmann's Mayonnaise spatula from the Southern Living Cooking School. I said "No way, man. For my vote, it's a set of tongs or nothing."

Now kids, I'm sure your parents right about now are telling you "don't listen to the crazy man who is sacrilegiously badmouthing the voting process."

Well, let me tell you about another "crazy man" with curly locks who lived in a big mansion on the banks of the Potomac River in Virginia and had some pretty "weird ideas" about government of his own. Well, he worked his way up to where he went down in history as the most revered and respected man in all of Washington, D.C.

And you know who that man was? That's right, former Redskins fullback John Riggins.

And I'll bet he didn't sit up late Tuesday night listening to those insufferable pundits discussing the electoral process.

Like what time the polls close, anywhere from 7 to 11 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. (Except for Florida, where the polls close between 2 and 3 p.m. for a nap and then for good at 4 p.m. and all voters get a coupon good for a Shoney's breakfast bar and a box of 20 Mule Team Borax.)

Outside of America, who cares what time the polls close? Do you think they sit around in India fretting that if the networks project a winner in Bihar it might dissuade people from voting in Rajasthan? Phooey.

And finally, WHEN will we be able to vote online? Oregon already votes by mail, but that is SO inconvenient. You have to locate an actual inkpen and you have to lick the disgusting envelope flap. It's just one hassle after another.

When we can vote online, there is the other potential upside that some 14-year-old kid from New Jersey will hack into the software and throw the election to "Stone Cold" Steve Austin for President, or Jesse "The Body" Ventura for, say governor of Minnesota or something. Ha ha, it could be hilarious!

But then I went back to the polling spot one last time to sit and watch folks file in.

There was a couple with an infant, the dad struggling to vote one-handed while balancing the child; a couple of older women in nylon windbreakers fussing over the paperwork; a tall, sharply dressed women who had just come from the office; a black man leaving the polls with his daughter skipping beside him, and a young man in workboots and dungarees stopping in from the jobsite.

And I thought, well, heck, maybe there is something to this Democracy thing after all.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist

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