Object Lessons: Rantings of a Lone Pamphleteer
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Yo Voté

Yesterday was such a cool day, today I decided to wear knit yoga pants to walk to my voting location. Of course, it turned out to be over 70, and I was boiling by the time I reached University Park Elementary to vote.

I walked to the desk marked "L-Z," and handed over my voter's card. I was immediately redirected to the next table, "A-K." Oops, I'm a "G" now, not an "R" anymore.

To verify that I'm me, I suppose, the lady asked me my middle name. "Salme," I promptly and confidently replied. I was wrong. My voter card and driver's license list my maiden name as my middle name.

Trying again, she asked me "What's your address?" I stumbled over that too, but handed over my license as proof.

Finally she asked me "What's your DOB?"

"My what?" wiping sweat from my face.

"Your Date of Birth."

I got that one right first try, and was allowed to slink to the voting machines, thinking they must think I'm a fake, a ghost from Chicago, sweating and screwing up. I'm suspect. Immediately waylaid by an energetic assistant, I gratefully watched him push the card into its slot, gently encouraging me to take "as much time as you need."

Some days I don't feel too smart, and I suppose I also gave that impression, but I zipped through the voting, thanks to my marked Sample Ballot. It's cool that Maryland sends out the Sample Ballot (in English and Spanish).

Chel says that in VA they don't send voters sample ballots, though you can see one at the public library, her favorite haunt. (Concerning the inconsistency of voting technologies across the nation and even within a state: In Chel's hometown, they don't vote with touchscreens, nor punchcards. That's right, they still use levers. For all she knows, she voted for Goldwater.)

Decisions, Decisions:

Under my hubby's good influence, I researched the county referendums in advance, decide on my candidates early. I even filled out my Sample Ballot. Some interesting things came up.

President: NO COMMENT. I mean, Kerry's carrying MD anyway, so there's no fault in voting my conscience.

Senator and Congresspersons: Being Mexican has a strong influence on my voting . I sincerely believe we should have more viable options in the presidential election. The only way we're going to have choices other than the two major parties (a dual-sided monopoly, in my opinion), is to use Mexico's method of ousting the Institutionalized Revolutionary Party: shoehorn some candidates from another party into Congress. So I voted Green. That's right. Not a vote for the candidates as much as a vote for more freedom of choice, a system in which "fringe" candidates are also invited to presidential debates.

Up to this point, I contradicted the Official (Democratic) Sample Ballot handed out by Kerry supporters today.

Voting for the Judges was a waste of time, and generally involved keeping people in office. A tenured judge'd bench experience counts. Same votes as the Democratic party line (DPL).

Next, the county Questions. Here's where I get a real say in my hometown. I voted:

For Questions A, B, and C, approving bonds for the county to improve public works and transportation; county libraries; and public safety facilities. I like driving, reading, and cops, (especially cops). (Same as DPL).

Against Question D, Facilities Bonds for county buildings, because the lack of explanation frustrated me. For all I know, they're buying fancy furniture and damask wallpaper for the city council offices. (DPL suggests For.)

For Question E, Facilities Bonds for Community Colleges. I'm all about education (same as DPL).

Body Politick

This sticky set of questions proposed by apparently feuding factions of the council. In this corner, Hendershot, who'll get ousted under existing term limits in 2006, and in this corner, the rest of the current council.

For Question H (DPL suggests Against), which adds two at-large council seats. I'm for a diversity of voices.

H includes a piggyback clause that exempts the at-large seats from term limits. Theoretically, with the passage of this amendment, Hendershot himself could run for re-election (as an at-large member) even when established term limits force him out in 2006. (Voting for Question F negates H's term-limit exemption.)

Furthermore, Question H changes the rules about electing the chair; currently, the chair is elected by the other council members; H proposes to elect the at-large member with the greatest number of citizen's votes to the Chair. (Voting for G negates the change in voting procedure.)

For Question F (same as DPL), a clause counter-proposed by the councils' opponents to H that limits council terms to two, even for newly added seats. I'm against people staying in power because some voters seem to think it's a contest, to see how long they can keep old goats (God rest Strom Thurmon's soul) in office.

Seriously, I feel incumbents are inaccurately preferred by uninformed voters, who tend toward putting in 'trained' officials. Certainly, incumbents are statistical favorites. Also, if a candidate sincerely wants to continue in public service, plenty of other ways to help are available: other offices to run for, volunteering, campaigning for others, etc.

For Question G (same as DPL), proposed by the Anti-H group. Voting for maintains the current system to vote for Council Chair.

Eminently Logical?

Question H and the story behind it sounds like a crock of crap to me. Maybe I'm being overly cynical, or my mexicanidad is showing, but whenever I see a proposed amendment that benefits the person (or people) who propose it, I think it's crap.

Think Congress voting themselves a raise.

Prima facie, I don't trust a career politician who promotes an amendment that, incidentally, secures his job. I'm too cynical not to wonder if Hendershot's attempting to secure his place on the council, as well as his chance to become chair (he'd have a 50-50 shot, instead of 1-in-9). I further wonder about the opportunity the Chair would have to promote other ballot amendments, such as repealing term limits altogether, perhaps?

And doesn't Question H, taken as a whole, make the at-large seats the most prestigious, seeing as the candidates would also be running for Council Chair? Hmmm....

Jon says not to read too much into things, but as a writer, I believe the image carries the narrative; facts tell the story in real life, too: journalism. Here's an interesting article. It just smells fishy to me, though that might be Teddy.

Against Question I (same as DPL), which while claiming to "establish voting rights for at-large council members," actually denies the two new seats voting rights. Here is where I imagine the anti-Hendershot crowd lobbing another one. But I can't agree with putting two lame ducks on the council, at my expense (don't they get paid for this with my tax dollars?). This Question struck me as particularly vicious. Maybe I'll go to the next meeting.

The Rest

Against Question J (DPL suggests For), limiting the hours of temporary seasonal positions.

They didn't explain it enough; I'm worried they'll be taking away park employees, or those three pesky DMV tellers, or cops (especially cops). Generally I feel that people should be allowed to work as many hours as they need to support themselves.

As someone who has enjoyed freelancing most of her career, I have to say NO! based on what I can glean. To me, it's about maintaining the flexibility and control over one's work life. But that's based on a poor understanding of the poorly written statement, which was the deciding factor in my vote.

I made all these decisions days ago, so after zipping in my answers, I handed the card to another technician, who traded me a sticker for it.

"I voted," in English and Spanish.

In retrospect, maybe they thought I didn't speak much English.

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