All my conversations, I’ve found, inevitably wind their way back to this circus of an election. One moment you’re standing there waiting for your falafel order and talking about ways to quantify all the existing goat puns, and the next, someone in your group’s taken advantage of the lull in conversation to fall back on “So… Donald Trump,” and no one even knows where to go from there. In conversation and in life.
Frankly, I think the media’s oversaturated with “news” on the two presidential candidates and have about had my fill of vaguely familiar Facebook friends with already immutable opinions tear each other apart on my newsfeed in the name of “discourse.” I could probably handle never hearing the names Trump or Clinton again for the rest of my life.
As excited as I clearly was about the election, I was markedly enthusiastic about the prospect of using the excuse of having to vote early to get out of commitments.
“What about Thursday at noon?”
“Sorry, I’m setting aside time for early voting.”
“… Across two days?”
“It’s a really long line.”
And it was. On Friday the 28th, which I erroneously thought was the last day of early voting on campus, I (along with a friend) had to walk almost entirely around the building to reach the end of the line. In hindsight, I realize that I could have gone ten steps the other way, but doing so might have lessened the dramatic effect.
Anyway, we needed all the time we could get, having neglected to research the numerous candidates running for local office and not in the extensively covered presidential race, like Railroad Commissioner and the nonpartisan community college board positions, prior to standing in line. As a new resident of the city—I had to re-register to vote after moving in for college—I was unaware of local concerns and, naturally, got an equal say in their affairs.
We spent the hour in line filling out a customized ballot on vote411.org (which I highly recommend for the uninformed voter—it provides succinct electoral information on your district’s candidates in Q&A format.) I’d barely finished emailing the ballot to myself when we got far enough toward the front that the people asked us to put our phones away.
“How am I going to remember the names?” My friend asked, realization dawning on his features. “We can’t bring our phones into the booth!”
“But didn’t the site say we could email the ballot to ourselves or print it out?”
“I think it meant we could email it to ourselves and then print it out.”
At this point, I was making a case for literalism just for the sake of it. “Then why didn’t they just say to print it out? Wasn’t the email part unnecessary?”
In the voting station, I looked at the names of candidates not running on a party line and sighed. Deeply. I couldn’t tell any of them apart. Picturing the face of the person on my customized ballot, I scrolled listlessly, trying to find the name that matched. Feeling the energy, you know?
“That was underwhelming,” my friend said, afterward, as I approached. Who knew how long he’d been waiting for me to choose between Sean and Michael for Board, Position Three?
“I don’t know,” I said, immediately pulling up my customized ballot from my email to check if my choice of Michael had been the right one, “I took a deep breath before submitting. That always dignifies my life choices.”
I scrolled down and groaned. It had actually been Sean. And I’d also voted the wrong person for another position, as well. “NooOOOOoooooOo.” Consoling myself that that one incorrect vote wouldn’t matter was logic that invalidated my other selections, so I just wallowed in my incompetence for about five minutes before justifying that those two candidates were close enough in terms of qualifications to not be memorable.
We were halfway back to the dorms when I realized I’d dropped my “I Voted” sticker. We doubled back and I somehow spotted it on the grass.
“I’m surprised you found it.”
“Yeah,” I agreed, “otherwise all this would’ve been pointless. I can’t believe this, either.” Usually, when I lose something to momentary stupidity, I can expect it to be lost forever. But sometimes, such as in this case, there’s the prospect of recovery.
Here’s to hoping the same goes for my country.
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