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Vote Early And Vote For A Long Time
by Mad Dog


Thatís where absentee ballots come in handy. Theyíre easy. No muss, no fuss. You donít have to leave the comfort of your own home and you can fill it out naked if you want to. Or so I can only imagine.
I just took half of Al Caponeís advice ó I voted early. Iíd consider taking the second half and vote often but, to be honest, itís just too much work.

   I know because I had an advance look at this yearís roll of the dice ó I mean, ballot for the Consolidated General Election. It looked like I wouldnít be home on Election Day so I requested an absentee ballot. This isnít the first time Iíve done this. Heck, I voted in the 2000 presidential election all the way from Bali, where FedEx was nice enough to overnight absentee ballots for free. I didnít track it óI handed to them, watched them throw it in a bag, then left the office ó so I donít know for a fact that they even sent it to the Department of Elections, but Iíll give them the benefit of the doubt. Though considering how the election turned out I should have put in a tracking request and asked for proof of delivery. And a refund.

   Even if I am in town I have a tendency to vote early. I like being able to vote at my convenience without all those icky people in line in front of me. Plus it makes me feel special. I can pretend I have a VIP pass, or at least a ďDo Not Pass the Voting Machine, Do Not Collect $200 Unless You Promised A Candidate Youíd Vote For ThemĒ card. I donít have to mark it on my calendar, donít have to abandon my shopping cart in Safeway because I suddenly realize I only have 20 minutes until the polls close, and donít have to worry about whether theyíve moved the polling place from that gasoline and wet dog scented two-car garage to a fire station I didnít know existed, because if you vote early you always do it at City Hall.


It weighs in at a whopping 11 megs. Hey, if I want to spend that kind of download time Iíll go to YouTube and watch a walrus doing sit-ups to the theme from Rocky.
   The big drawback is you still have to leave the house. Thatís where absentee ballots come in handy. Theyíre easy. No muss, no fuss. You donít have to leave the comfort of your own home and you can fill it out naked if you want to. Thereís a certain satisfaction to voting for the next president or governor while sitting at the kitchen table wearing your birthday suit. Or so I can only imagine.

   After putting it off for a couple of days ó something you canít do on Election Day ó I opened the absentee ballot and proceeded to pull out a wad of five oversized ballot cards that could choke a dark horse, all but one of them printed on both sides. To put this in 21st century perspective, if you go to the San Francisco Department of Elections website and download a PDF version of the ballot it weighs in at a whopping 11 megs. Hey, if I want to spend that kind of download time Iíll go to YouTube and watch a walrus doing sit-ups to the theme from Rocky.

   There were 11 sides to fill out. I got to cast my vote 56 times, including for governor, senator, representative, city assessor, whether to keep or dump 12 judges, and 24 (count Ďem, twenty four!) state, county, and city propositions. I think itís good that we the people can pretend we have a say in what goes on ó lord knows no one listens when we protest ó but do those people who supposedly govern really need to ask me whether they should borrow money to fix the roads that ruin my carís suspension, float bonds so our kids can learn something for a change, and request that the Mayor show up at a meeting of the Board of Supervisors once a month whether theyíre doing anything interesting or not?


Thereís got to be an easier way. Maybe we can vote online and make it a game like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Or we could call in our votes using the same phone numbers as American Idol so we donít have to remember new ones.
   If I want to make this many decisions about what the government should and shouldnít do Iíll run for office. After all, thatís what weíre paying those who govern to do ó govern. Maybe if they spent a little more time doing their job theyíd have less time to take money from special interest groups, sneak off to have online chats with Senate pages, and pretend Iraq isnít in worse shape than it was when we shocked and awed the living hell out of CNN. If I do have to do their job, the least they can do is send me part of their salary. Hey, all theyíd have to do is ask Jack Abramoff to take it out of their monthly check and forward it to me. You know, like a payroll deduction for the 401(k) plan I donít get to have because Iím self-employed. Which is a shame too, because it would be better preparation for my retirement than the program I have now, which is standing in front of the mirror practicing saying, ďCan I help you out with your groceries, maíam?Ē

   Unfortunately we canít trust our leaders to do the right thing so we have page after page of propositions to vote on. Theyíre not really as mind boggling as they appear. Well, as long as you donít mind wading through the 169-page Voter Guide the city put out explaining them. Which, by the way, doesnít include the state or county propositions.

   Thereís got to be an easier way. Maybe we can vote online and make it a game like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Or we could call in our votes using the same phone numbers as American Idol so we donít have to remember new ones. Perhaps the government could mail each of us a coin with the candidateís faces on either side so we can flip it and send it back to them. And why not? After all, thatís how we end up making most of our Election Day choices anyway.

©2006 Mad Dog Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country. Read them while standing in line at the polls.

 

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