I don’t spend a lot of time here talking about divisive issues. I’m more interested in inspiring you to live a life you can look back on happily, telling yourself, “I kept my focus on things that really mattered.” But today it’s not family dinner, a clean-enough home, or a creative project I want to talk about. It’s that issue many of us just wish would end already–the elections.
If you’re not planning to vote, shame on you. Make a new plan. Listen, we’re blessed beyond belief in this country and we have to do more than sit lazily on our couches beckoning the blessings to keep a-comin’. Two years ago one of our local papers ran a letter to the editor from a college freshman, and he seemed to be the “beckoning” type. He was angry about his first voting experience, and here are the reasons he supplied:
-The volunteers at his polling place were too old; he couldn’t relate to them.
-He had classes all day so it wasn’t convenient for him to make it to the polling place to begin with.
-The ballot issue wording was too hard for him to understand. (You may be amused to know that the issue that year was whether underage patrons should be allowed in bars downtown.)
He ended his letter with some uncalled-for statement along the lines of, “Democracy sucks.” I wanted to find the exact words to double-check my memory, but I combed the archives of the paper and couldn’t find the letter I was looking for. Suffice it to say my veins were popping out as I finished reading his preposterous statements. I found him on facebook and sent him a message, basically the same message I want to send to you today.
If you’re overwhelmed, pressed for time, or–heaven forbid–just kind of lazy, get an absentee ballot! The way Lovey and I got ours was by doing an internet search for our state name followed by the words “absentee ballot.” That led to a printable form which each of us printed, filled out, and mailed to the county auditor. Less than a week later, we received our ballots. We filled out those (independently), then mailed them back.
No wait in line, no ticking-striped booth, no panic at not comprehending a ballot we were seeing for the first time. Absentee ballots are the foolproof voting method, at least from a voter’s point of view. (There’s speculation about whether they make fraudulent voting easier.) You can complete it in your own timeframe. You can browse the candidates’ websites, see what their detractors say about them, watch local news clips, and even read the Congressional Record if you’re weird like that. You should probably use this time as an excuse to catch some missed episodes of The Colbert Report or the Daily Show–you want to be a thorough researcher, don’t you?
There is no reason to feel rushed or uninformed. I spent a week completing my ballot, working on just a couple races at a time so I didn’t get too tired to make a thoughtful decision. As for ballot issues, the last couple I’ve had to vote on have been worded strangely, I admit. Sometimes there are double-negatives to sort out; sometimes you’re thinking, “YES! I want to go to the bar!” and so you fill in the oval next to YES, only to find out later from a sober friend that you just voted yes to uphold a statute that prohibits your presence in bars after 10:00 pm. Too bad, so sad–should have requested an absentee ballot and had a law student help you through that trick question.
I’m sure you’ve noticed this touches a nerve with me. Peers, we’ve got to get with it. The only thing about this election that angers me more than Barack Obama and Mitt Romney’s rabid fans is the election-season couch potatoes. Do not be one of those, please! There is no valid excuse for staying on the sidelines during an election in which you are eligible to vote. And if the phrase “lesser of two evils” is playing like a skipping CD in your head, some of the races have third-party candidates. Just sayin’.
Okay; I just needed to get that off my chest. I’ll be back next week with more of the light stuff. To hold you over until then, here’s a fun way to cope with those obnoxious smear ads that are every-freaking-where right now: each one is a mandatory make-out break with your significant other. Try it; you’ll like it. 😉