Wednesday, October 20, 2004

do you remember your first time?

Boy, I sure do. I was so excited--I'd been looking forward to the moment since I was old enough to know what it was. I was eighteen when it happened, which I think is a perfect age--old enough to be responsible and to understand the consequences, young enough to be enthusiastic. There was even a photo of me doing it, in the school paper. I've still got a copy. I've got an oddly distracted look on my face, considering my blissed-out state, and there's that truly unfortunate asymmetrical haircut, and I'm sitting on someone's shoulders holding up a sign.

I'm talking about the first time I voted, of course. What did you think I meant? Honestly, you people and your filthy minds.

Anyway. I've been thinking about that first time a lot. I thought about it today, when I went to my mailbox and found that I'd gotten my absentee ballot from the Registrar of Voters. Yep, I'm voting paper. It's a sorry state of affairs that if we want to feel secure that our votes are being counted, we have to vote from the privacy of our own homes. Walking to dinner tonight with AX and Pavlova, the latter talked about how much she loves going to her polling place and running into scads of people she knows, and the former told a story of going during the rush and seeing people spread out over every surface dutifully filling out their ballots and thinking, now there's democracy. That sounds wonderful to me, but I don't trust Diebold, or touch screens, or for that matter the poll workers I've dealt with in the past who hadn't mastered the rudiments of sorting things by alpha order (I have two last names, which makes things all the more complicated for these folks).

So I have become a Permanent Absentee Voter, when really what I'm trying to be is more of a Presentee Citizen. And as exciting as I find standing in those little fold-up booths (sadly, I came of age after the great curtained booths had gone the way of the dinosaurs) wielding my little library pencil (and getting the I Voted! sticker afterwards, natch) there are certain compensations to voting from home.

There's a whole aspect to it, really, that hasn't played up, but should. The sex appeal. The upstanding citizens at Votergasm get it. Incidentally yes, I've signed the pledge, at the American Hero level. Even if it means I've consigned myself to a sexless hell for the next four years, I love the drama of the gesture--and if it means I only sleep with non-American nationals, that's not all bad. And I think American Heroes can still graciously allow American non-voters to go down on them.

But I digress. Think of all the fun you can have, voting from home! Knowing that you can take as long as you want, dressed however you like, in whatever position, at whatever hour of the day is your best for that sort of thing--now that's hot. You can do it on the floor, the counter, the kitchen table. You can incorporate any sort of food or toys you like, as long as you fill everything out properly, don't smear the ink, or catch your ballot on fire. Remember that scene in Dangerous Liasons where John Malkovich writes a steamy letter using a beautiful woman as his writing desk? Afterwards, the ballot goes neatly into its envelope (you don't even need a stamp, is this a cheap date or what?) and then you can either slide the whole thing into a willing mailbox, or walk it over to City Hall and hand it saucily to one of the nice people waiting there for it. And la voila, nobody is the wiser.

Just don't, you know, leave your underwear in the envelope for the wrong people to find.

I'm being silly, yes. But after the last election, our national rape fantasy's been getting played out in horrible, vivid detail because, in part, too many people still believe voting doesn't matter, and too many others don't believe that blatant vote fraud is worth addressing. Anything we can do this time around to rectify those errors is worthwhile. For crying out loud, members of our own Congress have asked for international observers to come monitor our elections (if you still think it's just benighted banana republics that can't run an honest election--if you're one of those folks who felt that the Florida debacle should be ignored because it was "time to get on with our lives"--you really need to read Rivka's post over at Respectful of Otters on voter fraud in Nevada.)

All over the country, people are taking time off from work to go door-to-door, make phone calls, drive people to the polls (two members of my troupe will be out in the swing states--right now that's the only valid excuse for missing a rehearsal!), or just sit and watch and make sure that everyone who wants to vote gets to.

Compared to all that effort, sending away for an absentee ballot (in California, you have until October 26th to apply, and you can even download the application as a pdf file) and then getting it back in is ridiculously easy.

You don't even need lube.