Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sorry, Jon Ralston. I Voted Yesterday!

(Btw, I will always [HEART] Jon Ralston for his superb political reporting and his curmudgeonly yet insightful commentary. I just don't get why he's so adamantly opposed to early voting. That's all.)

On Sunday, Jon Ralston told me NOT to vote early. And lil' rebel princess that I am, I voted early yesterday anyway.

But why? Especially after Ralston begged me not to.

Don’t vote.

At least not yet. [...]

I know this rant falls on deaf ears — if history is a guide, half of the primary voting universe will have dispensed with the sacred duty with the solemnity of a trip to the convenience store. I am used to being ignored (do not forget — I have a teenage daughter).

But imagine:

You voted for U.S. Senate hopeful Sharron Angle this weekend and then watch in horror the disclosure June 1 that she had a bit part in “Battlefield Earth,” left on the cutting room floor because she advocated mandatory chemical castration of rapists.

You voted for gubernatorial candidate Brian Sandoval this weekend and then recoil with revulsion at the revelation June 4 that a tape exists of him saying, “I had to lie during the campaign but, of course, I will raise taxes.”

Or, perhaps, you voted this weekend for congressional aspirant Michelle Fiore and then blanch with embarrassment at the unveiling June 7 of a defunct website in which she was selling guns on the black market to illegal immigrants.

These are obviously fantastic scenarios (I think), but I exaggerate to make a point. In case you missed it in my subtlety, that point is: Don’t vote. At least not yet.

Well, I had a Democratic ballot (Oh, the shock! LOL.), so I couldn't have participated in Ralston's doomsday scenarios anyway. But even if there were more competitive races on the ballot, I probably still would have voted yesterday. It's fun sometimes to savor the scandaliciousness of campaign season. But ultimately, it's policy that determines my election decisions. So yes, I still would have voted early.

But why? Especially when Ralston begs us every two years not to.

And why should voting be a convenience, thus reducing its importance to picking up a pack of Trident at the 7-Eleven? I wonder if any of the folks blithely voting this weekend and for the next two weeks have any appreciation for the interminable lines or threats to life and limb those in other countries are willing to endure for the right to vote for their leaders?

It’s not just the potential to miss something that could make you regret your vote — it’s your duty to wait until June 8. So: Don’t vote. At least not yet.

Oh dear, here comes the guilt tripping. Now yes, I use it myself when I hear of someone I know deciding not to vote at all... But why denigrate those who choose to vote early? We're still doing our civic duty. And in fact, we're making sure we fulfill our civic duty in case we have to work all day on election day, or the babysitter can't be booked that day, or we're on a business trip, or we're on a vacation that couldn't be rescheduled, or we had to fly back to California for a family emergency... Get it now, Ralston? Most people have lives, very busy lives in fact, and early voting gives us a chance to participate in elections in case life intervenes and we can't (gasp!) vote on election day.

But why? Especially when Ralston said early voters didn't really know who they were voting for/against!

This cycle, I fear, will be worse than most. I would not be surprised if early voting is at a record percentage of total turnout. Why?

Never before in recent history have people had their minds made up, often bereft of facts and unencumbered by thought. Blind anger — emphasis on the first word — governs so much of the political colloquy today that you would have more luck convincing many Republicans that the world is flat than persuading them to vote for Harry Reid. You would have a better chance of inducing Democrats to hop on the birther bandwagon than to consider the possibility that Shelley Berkley isn’t the greatest congresswoman since Bella Abzug.

So if you know what you like — or more likely, loathe — why take the time to carefully deliberate, look at all the facts and make a rational decision?

Better to vote early. Don’t worry, be angry.

Meanwhile, the willfully benighted will trundle down to malls and elsewhere only to be confronted by ballots with names they have never heard of. What, there are judicial races? Who are these people?

Those with patience, though, will have the benefit of televised debates during the run-up to June 8 so they can make — oh, the horror! — an informed, intelligent decision. It will once again be striking — and depressing — how many folks will skip over the judicial races on their ballots after they vote for their favored candidate near the top of the ticket — or more likely, press the button for the candidate they hate the least.

So yes, my mind was already made up. But no, I was NOT "bereft of facts and unencumbered by thought". In fact, I've done a number of candidates' debates so far. I read Progress Now's handy-dandy Progressive Voter Guide. I've even had the privilege of meeting most of the candidates I voted for "face to face" (pun intended)!

Believe it or not, it's not difficult to be informed early. Perhaps Ralston didn't realize this, but voters no longer have to rely upon newspapers and TV make decisions. We have this thing called the internet, and it allows us to check out campaign web sites, read voter guides like Progress Now's, see policy speeches via YouTube... And yes, we can even stay up-to-date on things like political scandals and late-breaking campaign news by reading these things called BLOGS.

Oh yes, I'm writing on one of these blogs right now!

Let's face it, times have changed. And as long as the feds refuse to make Election Day a national holiday and perhaps extend "Election Day" to a three-day weekend so we can all make time to vote in person "when we're supposed to", early voting is a much needed tool to give more of us the chance to participate in democracy. And come on, isn't more people participating in democracy a good thing?

Well, at least Jon Ralston isn't in California. I fear he'd be in a total state of horror over a little thing they call Vote-by-Mail.

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