It’s spring, and those of us in America, being sick of winter and the feeling of the interior of our homes are all gleefully piling into vehicles of various kinds to make our quadrennial visits to one or more of the states of Ohio, Iowa, Virginia, Nevada and Florida.
Bright yellow reflective vests with plenty of pockets for pens, clipboards, mace, and every wholesome non-partisan thing that assures ineffable good humor are piled in backseats and knapsacks– the hum of the printer, mixed with the smell of spray cheese (can be tricky one-handed: exercise caution if operating a vehicle) brings back memories of voter registration drives of yore.
Ahh, spring: when we celebrate that even though you might
- be a person of color,
- look ambiguously, yet openly gay,
- have a nose ring,
- speak Arabic fluently,
- be a convicted felon,
- decide to wear a burka that day, or
- be a citizen of nowhere but the planet Mars,
if you can get here, you can help!
Yes, it is still legal for anyone to help anyone fill out a form and then mail it! (Paper forms only in Ohio, Iowa, and Florida.)
So what will it be for you this year? Beaches? Cows? Slot machines? Monticello? OTHER COWS? Where will you select a convenient park bench/farmer’s market/well-attended independent film screening and lie in wait for the oppressed?
Yes, Virginia, New Hampshire is also a swing state, but they register on the day of and . . . are New Hampshire, so only go if you are looking for an experience.* (Anyway, they only have 3 votes.)
(While we’re in parentheses, can I comment on how little federally government-vetted hyphenation, I mean information, about the presidential election is available? Excluding Our National Archives, who are always late to the party, on purpose. Excellent coverage of 2008 though!)
(It seems like I can. We can, in fact. Yes. We can.)
But no, Virginia, there isn’t anything in Nevada that isn’t in Las Vegas or maybe (stretching here) Reno. Stay out of the rest of it, because I don’t want to be responsible for what might happen to you.
Summer comes, and we do the same thing. BUT IN BIKINIS!
And personally, I think if you are sitting in a camping chair, you are in effect on a picnic, not a mission. (I STAND. FOR AMERICA.**)
Then it all wraps up, and we take our piles of forms home to post. Enclosing glitter is traditional. Like Christmas, you want that voter reg card to show up at your new friend’s door just about two weeks in advance of the big day, to help get them into the holiday spirit.
Then the flurry to get into a good spot to bunker down and watch the results come in. (Only 0.2% of Americans have ever voted, but 92% will watch the results on television.) It’s just like New Year’s, except everyone’s hoping the ball doesn’t drop, if you catch my meaning. (If you don’t know anyone in town, student unions at universities are great.)
I like to bring a big bell to ring. No one else does.
I’m going to stay up until California reports! the little children wail at home. And then they actually do, because this whole thing goes a lot faster now than it did when I was a kid. Statisticians project how each state will go, from absentee ballots sent in two years in advance, I think, and the states report from that. This became acceptable when we decided that elections were actually part of the court system.
I do my own simple statistics, which primarily focus on rating how much I like each different way Andersen Cooper says “electoral college.”***
Even now, somewhere, Bruce Springsteen is probably tuning his guitar and humming that old tune, “We Print and You Sign.” I always forget the words to the second verse (“You SIGN, then we mail…”), but I remember this part:
“And thank GOD there’s no LAW
‘Gainst helping a CON fill a FORM
‘Cause then I’D be in JAIL
And that’s some short-sighted and ill-conceived self-re-enforcing vicious circle-type bullsh*t.”****
PS: Lake Michigan is NOT democratic. It’s water.
*Which you will get. New Hampshireans are cah-RAAY-ZEE! Trust me, that is not insulting them.
**I stand TALL for America actually. Because I wear heels.
***f(x) = all of them, a lot
***Not a footnote. Trying to cut back.
Shoutout to “Be your own events calendar.”