Electile dysfunction on the homefront
I applied for an absentee ballot again this year, although technically I will not be absent. In fact, on most election days, I leave Clear Creek Ranch to go to town.
On the way I drive by a pasture advertising “polled herefords,” which sets me to I wondering how come the cows get polled and I don’t, and is it the famous Gallup Poll? Which wouldn’t seem right, since I’ve never seen these cows trot, much less gallop.
By then I realize I’m beefing about nothing and I’m a good two miles past my polling place. There would be plenty of time to vote “live” if I wanted to. But then I’d have to stand in line, show some ID, get checked off a couple of lists, and then step into a large cardboard box to mark my ballot.
I’m glad they hang a trash bag over the opening to act as a privacy curtain. That way no one can see the hopeless/guilty look on my face as I imagine how a homeless person feels when he is cheating on an exam. Since the ballot measures can be complex and confusing, I need a cheat sheet to remember how I want to vote. An absentee ballot helps me avoid this agonizing ritual.
I do consider the issues carefully. I only wish that the proposers of these issues had considered them as carefully BEFORE they proposed them and got them on the ballot. Like the one that singles out chiropractors for prosecution for insurance fraud. Is the rest of the medical establishment quack-free?
Another measure proposes that taxes collected for a specific purpose (like highway maintenance) actually be used for that purpose. This is a novel and radical idea, and one that politicians will choose to ignore if it passes. Unless we impose a mandatory retirement on career politicians.
We have term limits on state Assembly members and state senators. But a ballot measure proposes a term limit loophole. It’s like giving the incumbent pants with an elastic waistband, making it easier to gobble a few more years at the public trough.
But the bond propositions can cost real money. A $4 billion bond issue throws large quantities of money at the un-quantifiable problems of clean water and air, and making our neighborhood parks safe. How about making the sidewalks safe? In one of the towns near Clear Creek Ranch, female pedestrians cannot venture off the quaint and picturesque main street without risking at least a verbal assault from loitering hooligans.
The “tiny” $250 million bond issue would help the counties modernize their voting equipment. I imagine $250 million will purchase quite a few NEW cardboard boxes with trash bag curtains. Maybe even a hook to hang my dimpled chads on. Or perhaps an orange crate to sit upon as I ponder my choices for lieutenant governor. What does that guy do?
But none of the above will entice me back to an polling place. Not when I can vote in my jammies and forget about the election weeks before the cardboard boxes are unfolded in my local precinct. Sure it costs me a postage stamp, but by staying home I’ll be protecting the environment, relieving traffic congestion, and decreasing wear and tear on voting equipment.
Effectively saving the state $4 billion (minus postage, of course). When they let me e-mail my vote, I’ll be happy to forward the postage I save to the lieutenant governor. It will give him something to count, other than the number of days until his sentence (I mean, term) expires.
Mike Drummond is a Nevada County writer whose column appears on Tuesday. You can write him in care of The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945; or e-mail him at
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