How To Vote Responsibly (A Guide for the Politically Confused)

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Imagine this nightmare scenario. It’s Election Day. You are standing in the voting booth at your local polling place. Winning the whoever-blinks-first contest, a sleek Daisy-Chain™ Electronic Voting Machine is staring you in the face. Hm… somewhere in the dark recesses of your mind you know something is wrong. Does this thing really work?

My friends. I feel your pain.

The answer to your question is a qualified "yes," it does work. But not for you. Could it do exactly what the machine’s owners want it to do? Might it even know how to flip the vote count to the chosen candidate just enough to win by a close margin? Sure would be hard to prove any hanky-panky that way.

This quote has been attributed to one of my favorite dictators "Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything."

So that’s why we need the Daisy-Chainu2122 electronic voting machine! Let Daisy-Chain™ simplify the decision-making process. Holy Reichstag Prescott! If there’s one thing the Bush Dynasty cannot abide that’s wimpy decision-making. Arf!

With Daisy-Chainu2122 election monitoring, not only are officials off the leash, but also they are freed from those annoying paper trails. The voter is spared the ordeal of those worrisome punch cards. But wait, you ask, how does one "vote" with one of these computerized gizmos? Beats me. I’m still waiting for my absentee ballot for the 2004 presidential election. (That’s true. It never came, but then, I’m not registered as Republican.)

The well-informed voter may be tempted to "cast his e-ballot" by using a Louisville Slugger. Be sure it wasn’t corked after it left the factory. That would be illegal. So is pumping up on interesting cocktails to strengthen your voting arm.

Appealing as it may be, bashing the hell out of a voting machine on election day is no way to participate in a "democracy." My advice: don’t do it… uh I mean… don’t bash the machine with a club. Such draconian destruction of private property may just land one in the hoosegow. Or worse! If Lulu Belle McCready were to exercise her democratic rights using a baseball bat or frying pan, her vote might just get counted as a vote for the Status Quo and John, Bomb Bomb Bomb, Bomb Bomb Iran, McCain. One can’t be too sure about these newfangled contraptions. If that is the Widow McCready’s intention, then she can leave the enhanced disciplinary tools at home. Fact is, she can just push any old button. Could the Daisy-Chainu2122 machine transform any vote for any candidate and register it as unqualified support for, say, McCain…51% to 48%… with one per cent left over for Ralph Nader?

Oh but what’s this? Our Gentle Voter has had enough of surges, pre-emptive war and empire building. A change is wanted. Dear Imperial Presidency: You’re no fun anymore. Unable to find on the computer screen a candidate who represents the values of George Washington, the voter is faced with figuring out how to write-in the name of the long-since-culled anti-insanity candidate? Or, for that matter, how do you write-in the name of the X-treme insanity candidate? I already miss Rudy. Don’t you?

Hm… good question. Is there a "type-in" candidate option on a touch screen? Oh I do hope so! I’ve always believed Pat Paulson would make an excellent president and now that he’s deceased I am even more bullish about his candidacy.

Again, fear not! No need for Dr. Gruber’s anti-anxiety medications. Let Daisy-Chainu2122 be the decider! That’s the privilege for which the machine’s manufacturers bribed… er… uh… were paid to do… oh, you know what I mean.

Time magazine reports: "Some 50,000 touch-screen machines were bought in 37 states at a cost of almost a quarter of a billion dollars." Gee, that Daisy-Chainu2122 stock I bought ought to go sky high!

But wait! Hogwash you say! These electronic machines are as honest as the day is long. The state of California requires that they print out a receipt. Well, now that is comforting. I was worried there. So… uh… that means if a whole bunch of us get a creepy feeling about the election like, say, some folks did about Ohio 2004, we can take our receipts to Conan the Republican (Uber-Gubernor of Kalifornia) and get everything straightened out. Right?

Wrong! That electronic voting receipt means nothing. How it claims you voted and how HAL‘s cute little cousin decided you voted could easily be two totally different things. And you’ll never know or be able to prove a thing.

Sheesh, the way things stand right now, the Widow McCready might as well go to Vegas and pull the handle on a one-armed bandit.

Well, this just stinks. Neither is this democracy nor is it legal. It’s Karl Rove’s dream come true.

What we need is election reform faster than your thumb can turn purple. I don’t know about you, but I’m sick to death of the whole shebang already… and November is a long way off. To be sure, the endless campaign does have some supporters. Some of them may even be lobbying to be released on their own recognizance on the weekends.

How can we fix this? Stop laughing. I know, I know, it may already be "fixed."

Well, we’re all Americans here. And you know what that means: John Wayne is our Pilgrim; Louis L’Amour is our Poet… and we settle things at the O.K. Corral. It’s time for the Wild, Wild West. Gun slinging! Is it too late to propose this for 2008? Well… maybe next time… assuming there is a next time.

See, this is how it would work. All presidential candidates would square off and eliminate each other one at a time in old-fashioned quick-draw gun battles. The Federal Elections Commission could use the old Gunsmoke set. Talk about Reality T.V. And… since the U.S. is in big financial trouble (Don’t believe me? Okay, let’s see how you feel after the Repo Man shows up to drive off the SUV you’ve been living in since the bank foreclosed on the mortgage and took away your house.)… we can put the presidential gunfights on pay-per-view!

Hell, even I would pay for that! Instead of checking that annoying little box on the IRS form begging for $3.00 for the Presidential Election Campaign, wouldn’t you rather donate $10.00 to watch Hillary, Obama and Bomb Bomb McCain exercise their Second Amendment Rights in a spectacularly staged (in breathtaking Sergio Leone style of course) three-way gun battle?

Election expenses being what they are, is it any wonder the country is broke? Some of these guys have been proven fiscally irresponsible before they get elected. Pay-per-view may be the answer to the fiscally conservative voter’s dream.

For those who feel strongly that violence and bloodshed are not the standard by which American democracy should be known, viewers might seek a sanitized version which has been offshore outsourced, so to speak, onto Second Life. Citizens of the Empire have delicate sensibilities. The show’s sponsors may balk at broadcasting all that gun-slinging gore… unless Fox News [sic] makes the program producers an offer they can’t refuse.

But what about this year? No problemo hombre! I have a cunning plan. It’s called La Lucha Libre. For those of you who need elucidation, Mark Bondurant writes: "Lucha Libre, which translates literally as Free Wrestling or Free Fight, is a Mexican passion that hails from at least as far back as the 1930s. Matches have sparked riots that have shut down large cities. Its almost mythic heroes who battle evil and corruption have inspired generations in movies as well as the ring."

Shut down large cities, spark riots? Rip snorting! La Lucha Libre could reconstruct Baghdad!

All candidates will be required to visit East Los Angeles, commission a personalized Mexican Pro-Wrestling mask and then, on The Day, show up ready to deal with the Octagon! Candidates are eliminated when de-masked in the ring. Oh! The humiliation! Oh! The ratings! Last one in the ring still wearing his or her mask will be our new El Presidente! Right now, slightly more than half the US electorate bothers to show up to vote: I bet this gets higher ratings than the O.J. Simpson trial.

Now don’t you agree that either one of these ideas would be more sporting, fun and responsible than allowing the clones of HAL to decide our next Democratic Dictator?

Tom Chartier [send him mail] played lead guitar in legendary Los Angeles punk band The Rotters for 26 years until their final appearance in January of 2004. He has lived in Tokyo and Los Angeles. Currently he resides somewhere in the Caribbean. Elizabeth Gyllensvard [send her mail] no longer lives in Washington D.C., and spends her time reading British history.

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