The Civic Process


I really mean to throw this letter out but it’s been bugging me. Shortly before the election I got one of those letters that tells you how often, according to public records, I’d voted in the elections and compared that to how often my neighbors had. It reported I had voted in only one of the past four elections, compared to the neighborhood average of two.

The thing is, that’s just not so. I’ve voted in all the November elections since I moved here, at least. So where do they get one vote out of four from? Maybe they’re thinking of those dinky little elections held at weird times when, like, there’s two people fighting for the right to fill in the last three months of a term on the district board of education, and I’ll admit to skipping those when I can’t convince myself I know enough about the situation to cast an informed ballot and none of the participants at least had the decency to plaster local street signs with hilarious campaign flyers about how the British Royal Family is involved in this somehow. But I know there weren’t four of those gone on the past year, when I’d voted in two of the election-gathering affairs.

So the letter haunts me: did they just make a mistake in the letter sent me? Did votes I cast for somebody or other back in August in the vote about something or other not register? Are they just making up stuff in the hopes of inspiring civic-minded people to have sleepless nights worrying about the integrity of the voting process? And why do this to me? Don’t I have better things to worry about? No, in fact, I don’t.

Now I’m not so egotistical as to think some mysterious shadowy organization went to a lot of bother to just make me self-conscious about stuff I do on otherwise slow Tuesdays. I hardly need help with that. They must be doing this for everybody they can name, although I don’t think they sent my love anything, come to think of it.

Besides Not Being Elected, Charlie Brown


I don’t want to worry too much about the minor peculiarities of the Peanuts universe but something came up while watching the truncated little bits of You’re Not Elected, Charlie Brown that they show so they can pad out It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown to an hour long. The problem is that as the story goes, Charlie Brown never even runs for school president, so, yes, “You’re Not Elected” is a literally true summary of what happens over the course of the story. But since he didn’t have a chance of being elected it would be no less incorrect if the special had any of these titles instead:

  • You’re Not Named Deputy Ambassador to the Netherlands, Charlie Brown
  • You’re Not The New County Commissioner of Drains, Charlie Brown
  • You’re Not Part Of A Hipster Cover Band Called “Charles Brownies”, Charlie Brown
  • You Don’t Go Swimming Right After Eating, Charlie Brown
  • You Don’t Make A Spectacle Of Yourself In A Humiliatingly Bad Pricing Game On The Price Is Right, Charlie Brown
  • You’re Not The 43rd Person To Walk On The Moon, Charlie Brown
  • You’re Not In A Shockingly Bitter Blog Fight With A Guy Who Writes Star Trek Novels, Charlie Brown
  • You’re Not A Kangaroo, Charlie Brown

I’m sorry to harp on this point. It’s just that the logical vapidity of the title turned the seven-year-old me into a little quivering ball of young Peanuts fanboy outrage and I have absolutely no useful way of dealing with that.

Statistics Saturday: What Election Day Schedules Feel Like To Me


Day Gut Reaction To That Being Election Day
November 2 Gah, way too early, this is like before Labor Day. What’s the rush?
November 3 OK, but it’s a little soon, don’t you think? I guess we can work with this.
November 4 This was election day for the first Presidential election I ever remember so this is obviously the best possible election day.
November 5 All right, we can work with this, even if it’s taking a while to get the voting done.
November 6 Um, how are we waiting this long to get around to it? Well, we can still vote but somebody better have a tardy slip over this.
November 7 Is this even a day? Something’s going seriously wrong with democracy if we’re voting on a day with an identifier like “November 7”.
November 8 Didn’t we already have the election a week ago? This is like after the Feast of the Epiphany for crying out loud.

The Ballot Questions


The polling place was fairly quiet, because it turns out locally there were three races being held, and they were only able to find two candidates. To make it feel a little more like things were exciting they added a couple of ballot questions, reprinted here:

  1. How was trick-or-treating at your house?
    1. Like nobody came, what’s the problem here?
    2. Last year there were like two kids, this year about seven thousand, what’s going on?
    3. I’m still getting ready for Orthodox Halloween next week.
    4. I think I’m the last person alive who still likes eating Heath bars.
  2. That Toronto mayor with the crack video:
    1. Yeah, sheesh, what’s with him?
    2. It’s some kind of performance art.
    3. I didn’t even know they had crack in Canada.
    4. Bill De Blasio?
  3. Did you get robo-called yet today?
    1. You’re robo-calling me right now.
    2. I set my phone on fire so you’d stop calling me.
    3. I’m the one shrieking at you to stop robo-calling me already.
    4. I have a kangaroo to listen to stuff on my phone.

The Seasoned Campaigner


The election’s tomorrow. Most folks in the United States are having an off-year election in which even the poll workers don’t remember what offices are being voted on or why they need to be there (it’s just nice to get together with other folks and share powdered doughnuts while squinting at people’s recorded signatures, is the best guess), but here in Lansing we’ve got a violently fought city council election going. The mayor’s office is pretty secure. Virg Bernero has a lead of like 140 points going into the final weekend, since he’s kept pretty much all his important campaign promises: he swore last time that the city would not fall prey to semi-feral gangs of genetically-engineered kangaroo super-soliders terrorizing the populace, and indeed, it hasn’t. Most of them are working as school crossing guards or as patient-advocates at the hospital. And there’s signs of good urban development too, such as the hipster part of town being able to support Portlandia-esque comically unsustainable “general goods” shops. Plus the band Walk The Moon played here last winter without seeming out of place.

So Bernero’s turned to trying to beat the point spread and working on city council candidates, which involves sending us over eighteen flyers per day and relentlessly robo-calling to warn us against a guy named Jeffries. Jeffries actually quit the race back in August, citing a need to spend more time with his family and not get picked on till he cried, but Bernero’s supporters wrote him back in on the ballot so they could keep on campaigning against him. Bernero’s also calling in support of someone who won a silver medal in hurdling in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, and won a something in the Pan-American Games too. I can’t tell you much more about her, but I’m almost sure she was able to get tickets to the Goodwill Games.

It’s been getting pretty intense. Not only have they been having a robot call us as often as every five minutes but last weekend they sent a robot over to pick up the phone and answer. I hope they come take it after the voting is over; I don’t want to have to deal with this too.