Voting and a Very Special Birthday.

Happy Birthday Mariss!

I have no idea if he looks at my web page, but I’m immortalizing now, in the interweb and in the G00gle cache, how freakin’ spectacular a guy Mr. Mariss is.

I wish I was there to make you elaborate and wonderful birthday cupcakes, but I’m not. Maybe next year?

Happy Happy Birthday!

Voting day today – I’m very lucky where I live – it is very easy for me to vote. The polling location is down the block and across the street from my apartment, right on the way to the subway station. I go in, there are nice people to help me remember my district number and to chat with me as I’m waiting, and it’s very exciting to work the election booth. I remember being little and going into the booth with my parents (either one, at different times). I always wanted to work the switches or levers, but they usually didn’t let me.

Today, however, it wasn’t so easy to vote. One of my building neighbors was voting when I got there, and there was something wrong with the voting booth. One of the lines was broken – the state senate. So you could vote for everything else, but not state senator. The election people were walking around, trying to figure out what to do. The line started to grow behind me. Two election guys got into the booth with my neighbor (which I wasn’t very uncomfortable with, personally, but she seemed to hold her own) and tried to force the booth to work. It didn’t work. They decided the problem was that the state senator was running on both the republican and the democrat ticket (all tickets, actually, except for the working families party). “You can’t split parties� one man kept saying, but you can, because there were at least 10 other people on the ballot who were running as both republican and democrat. That wasn’t the problem. A person in line before me left and lost her vote (she’d already signed the book), because she was late to work. Finally the site supervisor came back (from phoning headquarters, I assume) and said we could fill out paper ballots if we wanted to vote for state senator, and do all votes on the ballot, or we could vote from the machine, and not vote for the state senator. But my neighbor couldn’t vote in two places, so she lost her chance to vote for the state senate candidate.

So I decided to use the paper ballot. I waited for my turn. I was thanked for my patience. I got a standup piece of cardboard, a number two pencil, and a ballot. And I voted. As I made sure the circles on the ballot were filled in completely and darkly, I thought to myself “democracy is hard!� and then I realized, no, American democracy? That’s easy. Hard is worrying about vote fixing. Hard is dodging bullets on the way to the polls. Hard is to vote while thugs stand outside of the voting booth, in silent reminder to vote for the strongest candidate. Hard is walking for miles and miles and miles to stand up and be counted. Hard is voting, and knowing that no matter what you vote, and what your family votes, and what the country votes, the vote will always count up to 100% for the guy in power currently.

But still, I feel a little disenfranchised. We’re supposedly the “IT� democracy in the whole world. And in Spanish Harlem, at least two women lost their votes because of a poorly functioning voting booth, and a society that feels voting should be squeezed into a normal work day, and is something people get around to doing, and not a civic right and responsibility to be exercised freely and proudly.

I guess what I’m saying is, go vote!