Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I Voted, Didn’t I?

CNN.com reports that damp ballots due to rainy weather today caused problems in key swing states like Virginia and my own state, North Carolina. In Cleveland, Ohio, another key state, the ballots didn’t include the part for voting for a President. Three precincts in Missouri received the wrong registration lists this morning. Robocalls and e-mails told voters in Texas, Missouri, Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas to vote tomorrow—a repeat of the tactic Republicans used in the last two or three elections to trick black voters, generally assumed to vote Democratic. Lines were 375 voters long in Atlanta today (1).

Who wants to stand in line for ten hours to vote? By all definitions, the American voting machine has declined to third-world standards.

I may not be able to trust my memory on this, but I don’t remember national elections having so many fuck-ups 30, 20, even 10 years ago. Sure, I heard reports of “fixed” elections and “stuffed” ballot boxes, but nothing like the routine travesty voting has been since 2000.

It’s not as if voting is a brand new institution here. We Americans should be old pros at this by now. The 2005 legislative elections in Iraq ran more smoothly than today’s elections in the USA.

A colleague at work blames the fact that elections depend too much on volunteerism to manage the voting process. “Amateur hour,” he calls it, shaking his head in disbelief. This is not the Special Olympics, folks; it’s American democracy. Surely, the states can round up enough dough somehow to improve their voting procedures and infrastructure—perhaps by selling World’s Finest Chocolate bars door to door or something.

Attempts to interfere with American citizens’ right to vote—through political dirty tricks, or brain-numbed hooliganism, or simple finger-in-the-nose incompetence—should be branded as treasonous and prosecuted accordingly.

Isn’t voting the lynchpin of democracy? If it is, what does it say about 21st-century Americans that we are so bad at it now?

American public officials, elected or not, who can’t manage the relatively simple matter of ensuring every registered voter’s right to vote on election day every two years cannot be trusted to balance the economy, to protect our borders, to maintain public roads and highways, or to ensure our other civil rights as citizens.

I shouldn’t have to look at the purple thumbs of Iraqi voters with envy, people.

I don’t for a second buy officials’ excuses that they have been “surprised” by the large voter turnout this year. Please. If McDonald’s can serve over 47 million customers every goddamned day (2), with minimal glitches, the states should be able to prepare themselves for whatever numbers of voters show up once every four years to elect a President.

Failure to operate an efficient, just, and equitable election process is tantamount to proof that a state’s bureaucrats are not competent enough to keep their jobs. Fire the nincompoops. Period.


(1) “Scattered Problems Reported in Historic U.S. Vote.” 4 Nov. 2008. CNN.com.

(2) “FAQs.” McDonald’s Canada. http://www.mcdonalds.ca/en/aboutus/faq.aspx.

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