What to Expect on Election Day

October 31, 2004

On Thursday I explained to my Tuesday-Thursday class what they should expect to see on election day. I will explain it to my Monday-Wednesday class tomorrow. I will explain it to you faithful few readers now.

What do we expect at election day?

I know I intend to get up early and head over the the local party's newspaper office to pick up my ballot. I have made plans to meet a few friends there, and after a few drams we will head down to the polls together - about twenty of us. I know we will be singing on the way; those campaign ditties are both annoying and addictive earbugs.

At the polls there should already be quite a crowd, with partisans of both parties watching the polls. I always enjoy casting my ballot - standing up, proving my identity, making my mark on the rolls, and then placing my voting slip into the ballot box. My friends and I always give a cheer as each of us pops the paper in the box - a sort of warm fuzzy.

I know the party tells me that real men vote the straight ticket, and only cowards and scabs will scratch out one of their names and write my own in, but I am not all that happy with the incumbent county commissioners and intend to scratch. I say a real man makes up his own mind, and does not give blind and total allegiance to any party. I have not decided if I will bring a scratched ballot in my pocket, and hide my changes, or if I will make a point of scratching out the offending name. I suspect the latter, but we will see how many whips show up at the polls.

I will be taking the rest of the day off, and plan to spend it down at the polls watching the box, watching for that group of recent immigrants that the other party is going to try to slip past us, and watching out for that mob of goons who stole a ballot box in the next town last year. I am not a violent man, but I can identify people. At the end of the day we will probably head to the tavern for an oyster supper - our own local tradition.

The returns will come in over the telegraph around 10:00, so we will be back to the newspaper office to check the numbers. It should be a full day.

What - we are not in 1850 anymore?

Bother. It was going to be good fun.

Seriously, after going through a variation on the above rant - class is largely improvisatory theater for me - I urged the students to take not of the election day rituals: who is watching, who is checking, who is politicking at the gate, in what ways does the ritual of the vote reinforce civic identity, etc. Many of my students will be voting in Philadelphia, which is expected to be a zoo. I will be voting at the end of the block, 7 houses down. I might vote in bathrobe and carpet slippers just because I can.

Posted by Red Ted at October 31, 2004 09:43 PM | TrackBack