Monday, November 8, 2010

levers and punchcards and scantrons, oh my

I confess...this post would have been more appropriate last week. So, ummm, rewind your mind...and giggle at my little rhyme.

I'm a December baby and started school early so the first time I got to vote was in the Fall of my sophomore year in college. My first lesson in the realities of democracy came with registering to vote. My college was only about 1100 students but certainly the type that put the "liberal" in "liberal arts education" (side note: I actually have a picture from my freshman year with a bunch of liberal Democrat students and a few communists smiling aside a likely-unknowing Bob Dole). But, anyway...the first lesson in democracy came with learning that our tiny school had been gerrymandered into three different districts. The area itself was fiscally conservative and I guess we proved a threat. The college had also repeatedly offered to host a polling location for one or more district but the folks-in-power somehow decided that it was better to, literally, place a polling place in some guy's garage. Can't make it too easy for them youngin's to vote.

As an excited 18 year-old, I did a bit of volunteering in advance of my first ballot....which was November 1996. Given the political dynamics, the college crew had done a lot of work for a US House candidate in a neighboring district. None of us could actually vote for him, but it was where the energy might pay off. We held a big party on Election Night and celebrated Clinton's re-election, but the House race remained too close to call. In the end, our candidate lost by a mere 84 votes...a minuscule number in a US House race. Part of that was painful, we could have called 85 more people!! But, it was a very real and vivid lesson that voting does matter. Yes, most elections won't be that close, but they can be and you don't want to be left regretting apathy or laziness. We worked for the same candidate again two year later. He won.

So, that's where I started. I voted this year knowing my folks were unlikely to win, but I still got my butt there (and avoided the three car bumper-bashing mess as I was leaving the lot). I've voted in PA, VA, GA, MA (and PA again). I've used levers, punchcards, computer cards, fill-in-the-lines, and light-up ballots. My favorite was the absentee ballot in VA for 2000...they sent the punchcard ballot and included your very own little puncher (kinda a straightened paperclip). I have a semi-interesting story of Election Night 2000 but that's more of a verbal tale.

Ultimate point...I voted. So, even though I concede my choices didn't carry, now I get to complain if I don't like what happens.

1 comment:

Finesse said...

2 years ago, only one of the candidates for whom I voted won. I seriously considered that meant I should move. This year, they all won except one (and that was the close race). Now I feel like I can stay and I just have a lot of wishy-washy neighbors.