Just For the Record

1. I voted. Figured it was worth doing early, just in case, you know, I fell down the stairs on Tuesday and couldn’t get to my local polling location.

2. For those who are wondering, no, I did not vote a straight Democratic ticket. I voted for several Republicans, mostly for local offices. I also voted in the non-partisan elections, because I read up on those, like you’re supposed to do, and also for the Ohio ballot initiatives, again, because I read up on them.

3. The one office I didn’t vote for was US Representative. John Boehner is running unopposed, so it’s not as if he doesn’t have this one in the bag. He can live without my vote.

4. Once again, If you are a US citizen, I encourage you to vote next Tuesday (if not earlier, as I did). It’s important.

98 thoughts on “Just For the Record

  1. When voting in an unopposed race in which you do not support the candidate, write yourself in. Has the same effect as not voting, but hey, you might win.

  2. I haven’t made it to the polls yet, but a couple of days ago I went through my sample ballot determining who I’ll be voting for. It’s a nice mix of Republicans, Democrats and Other.

  3. I will be there when the doors open Tuesday morning. It’s right up the hill from my house, on the route I go to work. So, I’ll stop by and vote on the way. I might not be first in line, but it’ll be close. Early morning voting, I’ve noticed over the years, is not nearly as popular as afternoon and evening voting.
    The early voting days here in Maryland were disrupted by Sandy, as I’m sure they were everywhere else in the northeast where they were having early voting as well. There were encouragingly long lines at the early voting, from what I saw on the news, and I think they are planning to open it up again tomorrow. Hopefully there will be a nice large turnout everywhere.

  4. My state doesn’t do early voting unless you’re going to be out of state, so I’m waking up early and voting first thing Tuesday, then knocking on doors and making calls until late afternoon.

  5. The classic rule:
    If you don’t vote, you can’t bitch.
    I like to bitch, therefore I like to vote.

  6. If you do fall down the stairs before Tuesday, and die, does your ballot get invalidated? (Serious question. I also don’t know if it should matter.)

    (I haven’t voted yet. I am a permanent absentee voter, although I take the form and drop it into the ballot box on election day. I will go over the ballot this weekend and effectively vote then. The major offices and propositions are decided upon already, but I will take the time to go over the lesser ones.)

    (I never thought of writing in my own name for ones I just didn’t have an opinion on. Perhaps I’ll write in John Scalzi for those.)

  7. I think that John Boehner doesn’t even print out yard signs every year. He just relys on his supporters to keep them in the garden shed or garage for 2 years. But yes, the hubby and I voted back in October…as they say in Chicago “Vote Early and Often.”

  8. If you do fall down the stairs before Tuesday, and die, does your ballot get invalidated? (Serious question. I also don’t know if it should matter.)

    No, and this is why a lot of older people vote early (no, really). That’s the whole point to early voting, you ensure that your vote is counted regardless of what happens to you personally.

  9. I’m on the roll as a permanent, mail-in voter, I mailed in my ballot a week and a half ago. I did my research, weighed my choices, and voted for the people and measures I thought best. On the national level, that’s mostly Democrat as the current Republican candidates haven’t led me to feel that they have anything other than their own self interests in mind, and a faulty ideology to promote it with.

    On the local level, I find good people on both sides of the fence who do their service efficiently, honestly, and with a level of personal integrity and decency that is often admirable. How those good folks become clowns on the way to Washington is one of the Great Mysteries.

  10. I’ve seen many (somewhat convincing) defenses of principled non-voting. I personally vote, but I understand those who don’t. One of our freedoms is that of non-participation in electoral politics. I disagree that non-voting carries with it an obligation to silence.

    I might ask why others who vote encourage more voting. Why is it important that I vote? Especially when I might nullify your choices? I understand encouraging like minded people to vote, in that it improves the chances for your desired outcome. Encouraging random people to vote seems to have no purpose to me.

  11. Alex Ezell:
    That reminds me of an Adlai Stevenson quote: “In America any boy may become President, and I suppose it’s just one of the risks he takes.”

  12. John, I’m curious about one thing, since I’m not in America or an American, the ballot papers there; do you have an option to “spoil” it if you don’t like anyone on the slate or is it all done by computer these days? Where I live we have a local official up for election in a couple of weeks too, but only two people have stood, neither of whom are particularly palatable, so I get the option of “spoiling” my ballot by writing an insulting message on it registering my dissatisfaction. It still counts in a way, since the number of spoilt ballots is also counted and the manner in which they are spoilt. Do you have that option? It was the bit about there only being Boehner on one ballot that made me wonder.

  13. @stoneymonster. Re: …Encouraging random people to vote seems to have no purpose to me.
    Err, isn’t this supposed to be a representative democracy? Isn’t the point to have people vote so that we make (hopefully) the right choices for the people as a whole?

  14. My sympathies, Mr. Scalzi, regarding your Congressional district. I have also voted already; like you, I researched my initiatives and the local races, especially the non-partisan ones. And, like you, I did not vote for Congress… since CA implemented a very ill-thought-out ‘top two’ primary, I found myself with 2 Republicans on the ballot, both of whom are rated as extremely partisan conservatives.

    I will, therefore, be experiencing ‘taxation without representation’ for the next 2 years (it’s one thing to not have the candidate that best represents you win, it is quite another to not even hve the option of voting for him or her!).

  15. Anthony D. Renli – I love to bitch, and I’m approaching critical mass frustration with the current politics. I’ve ranted on here a few times about it, but i stopped myself after the last time. It felt too much like jumping up on a stage in a room full of strangers and shouting into a microphone. There are wonderfully patient people in my life who endure my rants with kind nods and smiles and not having me commited.

    Sean Eric Fagan – I’ve never considered that question. It provides some mental gymnastics doesn’t it?

    stoneymonster – To me it’s about participating in society. I can understand and appreciate and support principled non-voting, but not voting because someone just doesn’t feel like it seems silly to me. It doesn’t matter to me who someone is voting for, I’d encourage everyone to vote.

  16. @sqlmoto Convince me that more people voting leads to “the right choices”. More representative perhaps, but “right” assumes enlightened voters who generally understand their best interests. (Fair warning, I’m playing a bit of devil’s advocate here).

  17. Precisely what I did in every way you describe. Voting early (we use mail here in Washington State). Consider each candidate regardless of party affiliation. Unopposed guaranteed winners aren’t worth saying “me too” for unless I _really_ love them – which I don’t. Scalzi sometimes you scare me at how much you are like me. Or vice-versa, since I’m older and you’re clearly learning from my example.

  18. Jest if you like, but on Election morning 2006 I contracted appendicitis, and spent the day in the hospital prepping for surgery. I never got to vote. Early voting rocks.

  19. Cryptic Mirror:

    I could have written something in at the “US. Representative” line, but I don’t know if or how it would have been counted. I didn’t do that in part because I don’t want to make some poll-counter’s life more difficult.

  20. crypticmirror – Oh how I wish we could do that here. There have been times over the years when I would have done some good ones. We do have write in candidates. When I was still deciding who to vote for Obama v. Romney, I briefly considered writing in my brothers name so i could tell him he got a vote for President, he just turned 35 this year. According to my Maryland voters guide Santa Claus is a recognized write in candidate. I have trouble with this for two reasons.
    1. I don’t believe Santa was born in the U.S.
    2. We can’t elect a fictional character. Although as Lewis Black says, We certainly came close with the one before Obama.

  21. Most states require that you register as a write-in candidate for written in votes to count. Ohio (as I just looked up) requires that you register to do so between about 10 weeks ahead of the election. In the US, almost the only write in candidates who win things are folks who lose their own primary contest but don’t want to leave (see, e.g., Senator Lisa Murkowski). So even if everyone vote for Scalzi, he could not — at this point — beat John Boehner as Scalzi isn’t registered to be a write in candidate.

  22. In Australia there is mandatory voting. You must vote or get a $50 fine. It has its positives but i feel it is more negative. It seems to dumb down the debate. Candidates spend a significant amount of time targeting those who dont care enough to learn about the issues. Lots of halve truths and empty media friendly statements.

  23. Santa Claus is totally eligible, he’s over 35 and since he was over 35 before the establishment of the nation, he doesn’t have to be born in the US (he’s from Lapland you know). Also, Santa is totally real. I refuse to accept otherwise la-la-la-la not listening.

  24. Here in NC, when we voted early my wife put the “I voted” sticker on the plastic sleeve her birth control pills come in (a blue sleeve, naturally). When I saw it I said “That’s an awesome political statement and you should put a pic of it on Facebook”. Then she threatened my life, so I guess I’m not exactly the enlightened dude I thought I was.

  25. Make sure that you know your local laws re write-in votes before write anyone in. Here, if you write anything on the ballot, it’s a “spoiled” ballot and will not be counted.

  26. I voted on 10/23, which was the second day early voting was allowed here in Illinois. Just in case. One of my best friends died on 10/26; I don’t know if he voted or not, but since he lived in Vermont it probably didn’t matter much.

    I might consider voting for a Republican for a local office (though where I live there usually aren’t any Democrats running for local offices); the main reason I wanted to be sure my vote was in was to vote in the House race, where the incumbent, Judy Biggert, seems like a nice enough lady (I wouldn’t mind having her as a baby-sitter if I had a baby to be sat) but like essentially all congressional Republicans votes in lockstep with people like Boehner and Canter and Bachmann whatever her private thoughts might be. (You can’t get a Republican nomination for re-election if you don’t.)

  27. Godfrey, I agree on the devolution of Mr. Smith en route to Washington. We have a person who was a pretty good local politico, so when they ran for Governor, I voted for them across party lines. Unfortunately, they got sucked into their party machine or were brainwashed or something, and on taking office became largely an asshat. I don’t know if it’s power corrupting, or simply being forced to go along to get along, even when your choices stink.

  28. In support of pathetic Earthling, this guide:
    http://www.sos.state.oh.us/SOS/upload/publications/election/2012_CRG.pdf

    seems to state that write-in candidates must be registered in advance, so the local Whateveristas can’t make John the commissioner of the mosquito abatement district against his will.

    If this weren’t the case, then a successful write-in vote for John Smith could make Florida in 2000 look like a garden party. I assume that if two John Smiths were to register candidacy for the same office that the registrar would require that they register uniquely.

  29. Voted last week. Oregon has mail-in ballots that come with a hefty little pamphlet, outlining all the candidates positions, all the initiatives and party platforms. This make sit easy for every Oregonian to be an informed voter. Which of course is why 2 of the local Republican candidates want to do away with it (on the grounds that it’s needless government spending and not as private as going to polling center. Because of course huddling behind a curtain at 7 am while a dozen surly neighbors impatiently sip their coffee at you is way more private than filling out the ballot in the comfort of your living room, with a nice cup of tea.)

    Managed to vote a varied but non-Republican ticket, as Oregon also has plenty of Green Party and Working People’s Party candidates for state and local level positions. They also have Libertarians and Constitution Party folk on the ballot, but they make the republicans look moderate, which I think is why they exist.

  30. Hey John – how long did you have to wait in line to vote? My wife waited in line for 30 minutes in downtown Cincinnati at 4:30 on Halloween. The line was longer the day before when she drove by.

  31. Oooo thanks for the reminder John! Voting got moved to today for me because yesterday I was wearing full face clown makeup and so didn’t match my ID!

    (No ID is not required, just an option if you can’t find your registration card, which I can’t)

  32. Frank said Candidates spend a significant amount of time targeting those who dont care enough to learn about the issues. Lots of halve truths and empty media friendly statements.

    Not so very different around here. I’m just glad I don’t watch television as a general rule – I miss a lot of the idiocy that way. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop my mailbox from filling up with garbage (no, I don’t throw it out, I recycle it.) We need a way to advertise when we’ve already voted – leave us alone!

  33. Good on ya for voting. It’s a shame a lot of military personnel outside the US won’t get that chance this year, thanks DoJ!

  34. As for the write-in option – it’s not an option in an electronic booth where they only put a space to do so in the races where there is a registered write-in candidate. There isn’t anyplace else you can do it.

  35. Frank: I think you’re wrong on this one. Surely the last few/several months in the US disprove your theory that it’s compulsory voting that dumbs down the debate. I’m pretty swayed by the idea that it leads to more moderate politics, though. Although we Australians are probably a pretty moderate bunch by default.

    Question to the crowd: How much do a peoples temperament influence their political system rather than vice versa, and can you tell which is which?

  36. Washington has mail-in voting. I went to California last week to see my ailing mother, and voted before I went, on the off-chance that I would not get back here before Election Day. It looks like Washington is dark blue, so if I’d been held up, it probably would not effect the presidential race.

    However, our gubernatorial race is close, and the Republican is a monster. He’s also the fellow who lost by 300 votes last time around, and this time he’s not facing an incumbent. (He also has signs in the rural parts of the state urging people not to let their government be decided by the elitist idiots in Seattle. Some of my friends here don’t believe that, so I took pictures. I find that a telling sign of his willingness to govern on behalf of everyone.)

    Also there’s the odd important ballot initiative. I don’t expect the marijuana one to pass, but I have hopes for same-sex marriage.

  37. I voted early as well, but I did it last week. And my “I Voted Early” sticker isn’t nearly as snazzy as that one. :-(

  38. @ stoneymonster

    I might ask why others who vote encourage more voting. Why is it important that I vote? Especially when I might nullify your choices? I understand encouraging like minded people to vote, in that it improves the chances for your desired outcome. Encouraging random people to vote seems to have no purpose to me.

    For me, the value in living under a nation of laws reached by some measure of consensus through representation of my quarter billion or so adult neighbors it that it is superior to a nation of laws which seeks to impose my personal beliefs through the limitation of the franchise. This doesn’t work perfectly, but I do believe democracies are, on the whole, more stable and prosperous than the known alternatives, and that the inclusivity of their prosperity is proportional to the scope of those represented, such that the worst abuses have always been visited upon those without a voice. And, since one of my highest personal believes is that other people’s wellbeing matters, I find their enfranchisement valuable, even when I doubt the wisdom of their choices.

    @ grumblemumble

    Convince me that more people voting leads to “the right choices”. More representative perhaps, but “right” assumes enlightened voters who generally understand their best interests.

    There is nothing “right” about a tyranny which represents the governed only so long as they see eye-to-eye with my choices. Seeking government “right” only by my own lights is selfish, arrogant and imprudent. Or, more succinctly, it’s a more perfect union, not an absolutely perfect union.

    Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time. ~ Winston Churchill

    @ Shane

    Question to the crowd: How much do a peoples temperament influence their political system rather than vice versa, and can you tell which is which?

    I doubt whether the two can be deconstructed, so symbiotic are they. From my anecdotal observations, people mostly grow up absorbing the politics of their friends, family and community, and in adulthood those views either ossify into finding defenses for the sake of not admitting they could by flawed, or become transformed and owned by those who begin to question their preconceptions. Then there are innately skeptical people who tend to eschew deriving conclusions until they’ve reached a level of information, experience and bullshit-filtering to be able to make their own. The latter tend to be more apolitical until adulthood. But my experiences and observations are hardly comprehensive of the human species or even the American electorate.

  39. I voted early today as well, including all the non-partisan races. Which, in North Carolina, includes a lot of judges. That really, really bugs me. I know that trusting the governor to appoint good judges can be a dicey prospect, but I hate that state Supreme Court justices are chosen by election. I vaguely remember Sandra Day O’Connor supporting a system of appointment followed X years later by a “keep or remove” vote. Seems like a workable hybrid to me.

  40. He also has signs in the rural parts of the state urging people not to let their government be decided by the elitist idiots in Seattle.

    Given that a big chunk of people live in Seattle, I’d say that we elitist idiots should have our say on deciding things.

  41. I will not vote for any Republican this cycle. Until the national party get’s their act together I will not support them at any level.

  42. @RobG Nice troll, let me respond with, It would have been nice if the Republicans hadn’t decided to restrict voting for everyone but people in the Military.

  43. Yeah, the military voting restrictions lie has already been debunked everywhere. They still have the same voting windows, the GOP was upset that the regular people were getting access to the same timeframe.

  44. Oh, I voted ages ago – absentee, since I’ve been living in Europe for a long time now. I do miss the “I voted” stickers, though. They should put one in the envelope.

  45. I’m a permanent absentee voter too, and the one thing I miss is the stickers. I did take my ballot in to the polling place back in the primary election some months ago, so I saved that sticker. Thanks, old guy in the elementary school library who gave it to me!

    alala is right, they should put them in with the absentee ballots.

  46. For those of you advising write-in votes: Before you do that, be sure you check the laws of your state. In some states, if you write in a candidate who is not a registered write-in candidate, it will invalidate your whole ballot.

  47. I had no idea that you were a Buckeye Mr. Scalzi, and in Boehners district no less. I’m represented by the loathsome and rubbery comb-over of Doom Steve Chabot myself.

  48. I wish I could vote early. I heard there’s a creepy guy named Chad hanging around some of the voting booths. I’d like to avoid him this election if possible.

  49. Whether your early vote counts after dying depends on the state’s law. A 93 year old veteran, Frank Tanabe, died in Hawaii after casting his absentee ballot. Hawaii election officials say his vote will count unless they receive a death certificate before Tuesday and can find his ballot. However, in Minnesota, election officials check the obituaries and the Department of Health’s records.

  50. I voted yesterday. I like early voting, as I hate going out on election night. I still remember in 2004 a 45 minute drive from school turned into 3.5 hours in traffic on election night, so I have voted early ever since.

  51. I voted yesterday. Stood in line for an hour and five minutes, behind about a hundred and thirty folks when I got there, and the line was no shorter when I left. Here in Maryland, we don’t even have to show the registration card – just id yourself verbally to the poll worker – though I saw a couple of people clutching their driver’s licenses. In fact the guy behind me tried to show his and the woman wouldn’t look. Funny story: my brother had to go get a new license since Tennessee, where he lives, let seniors get them with no picture – and then passed a picture id law. Per him, a lot of “geezers” are scrambling for new id. (He says it’s not political since Democrats and Republicans both have to get one. Yeah…) Anyway, the polls are open later and since I don’t work in the county I vote in, I didn’t have to take off from work early to do it. Twenty three local and seven state questions plus a bunch of judges… I used to be okay with voting the man not the party – voted for Howard Baker once, even – but that was before one party went batshit insane on the national level.

  52. With respect to #5 & the importance of voting, I’m curious what you and others think about the case for not voting, as articulated most recently by a few of the folks at Reason.com, viz:

    http://reason.com/archives/2012/10/03/your-vote-doesnt-count

    and

    http://reason.com/archives/2004/11/02/not-voting-and-proud

    I most certainly will be pulling the lever on 11/6, but I did think twice, and am now less sure about my vote’s actual importance, especially since I live in NY.

  53. I thought about voting early. But there is a certain pageantry involved. I live in a red state and a red district so it won’t count for much but that doesn’t matter! My franchise is mine and I can try to help. In the primaries my vote helped take out a district attorney that kept an innocent man in prison for 6 years just because he didn’t want to appear soft on crime. Our franchise may seem like little or futile but it is REALLY important! Go out and VOTE!

  54. I voted last week. One of the few things New Mexico gov’t does right is a nice long early voting period. Also, very first time I had three parties on my ballot. Kind of liberating, actually.

    I love voting because I then feel very good about griping, moaning, shouting, calling out, ranting, fist-shaking, eye-rolling, caustic remarks, and all round general complaining about congress critters and the fat money slobs infecting the system.

    No bitching, though. That I leave to others.

  55. Why “not voting” makes it easier for the wrong people to get in:

    Okay, we start with a country which is a representative democracy. In an idealised version of this country, 100% of the population would cast a valid vote at every election, so the Right Candidate would need 50% of the vote (and 1 vote over) in order to win. So would the Wrong Candidate.

    Now, not everyone is going to be able to cast a valid vote all the time. Some people can’t read the ballot paper correctly, some people can’t figure out how to operate the machine, sometimes the machine malfunctions, sometimes people just get it wrong. Let’s say 10% of the vote is spoiled in this way, by a combination of illiteracy, innumeracy, or technological frustration. That leaves 90% of the votes which are valid. Our candidates (Right and Wrong) now need, in a “first past the post” system like the one in the USA, only 45% of the vote (plus one vote extra) in order to win.

    Voting day happens on a workday. Another 10% of the population aren’t able to get time off work in order to vote (for Reasons). That’s 80% of the vote available, and the bar to win has dropped to 40% of the population.

    Now, if another 10% of the population decide not to vote because they don’t like either of the candidates, that drops the total vote down to 70% of the population, and the first-past-the-post win to 35%.

    Let’s look at this from the other side, now. On either side, for our Right Candidate and our Wrong Candidate, there are a solid 20% of the population each who will vote for them along party lines. They can count on that first 20% without question, and they can know that all of them are going to turn out, all of them are going to cast valid votes, and all of them are going to agree with the chosen candidate of their party.

    So that leaves just 15% of the population they have to worry about swaying, if 30% aren’t placing valid votes, or aren’t showing up at the polls for various reasons.

    There’s a lot of little tricks that can be done to push down the numbers even further. For example, if Wrong Candidate’s electoral team decide to run a dirty tricks campaign, and intimidate or misinform folks who might vote for Right Candidate, they could possibly get another 10% of the population either staying away from the polls, or casting invalid votes, or going to the wrong location on the wrong day in order to cast their votes. We’re down to 60% of the population casting valid votes now, and that first-past-the-post margin has dropped to just 30%, which means the various candidates only have to sway 10% of the population (in addition to their 20% die-hard supporters) in order to win.

    By now, I’m sure most of the readers are starting to see what I mean. The less people who turn out to the polls, the lower the margin required in order to win in a first-past-the-post count. The aim of both candidates, in such a system (both the Right Candidate and the Wrong Candidate) is ideally to reduce this margin to the point where they could get over the line with their party faithful alone, and maybe another 5 – 10% from the unaffiliated.

    If you choose not to vote, you’re making it easier for the bastards[1] to win. If you go in and cast a valid vote (even if you have to hold your nose as you do so), you’re actually making it more difficult for the bastard[1] you hate most to win. So voting in your system keeps the bastards honest, or at least, more honest than they would be.

    Oh, and one other reason to vote: the people you vote for (or don’t vote for) are the ones who are deciding how to spend your taxpayer dollars. If you vote, you have a stake in choosing how your taxpayer dollars are spent. If you don’t vote, you’re still paying the taxes, and you don’t get a say in how it’s distributed. Isn’t the USA the nation which started with the slogan of “no taxation without representation”? If you get taxed and you don’t vote, you really aren’t getting represented.

    [1] I’m using this word in the Australian sense, rather than casting nasturtiums at the marital status of the parents of any of the mythical candidates.

  56. No early voting, but I will be at my polling place as soon as the polls open.

    … I’m a poll inspector, so I have to be.

    One of the oddities about New York’s fusion balloting is that I’m probably not going to vote Democratic, but I am going to vote for Obama. (Even odder, three years ago, no fewer than five parties nominated a candidate for District Attorney, but they all nominated the same individual. The write-in vote is truly the bulwark of our freedoms.)

  57. I’m in WA, so I’ll be voting over the weekend and posting on Monday. I love mail-in ballots, even though mine is always challenged because of that one year when my partner and I accidentally signed each others’ envelopes and yadda yadda.

    I’ll be voting straight D this year, for the first time ever. The only R candidate that I would consider is not in my district. Over the past 4 years I’ve watched R and I candidates that I voted for last round go completely bat-shit hard-right insane, and I’m sick of them. The whole R party and their faux Independent/Libertarian sidekicks can go hang, as far as I am concerned. I’m voting as a statement this year.

  58. I voted early on Monday.
    I’m glad its an option here in Colorado, because I feel we get more turnout when there are multiple options for voting.
    In addition to being a swing state, and thus constantly assaulted by political ads, I’m ready to have this election over!
    I’m mostly curious as to how the marijuana initiative does here. It should be interesting!

  59. Since Paul Broun is running unopposed and is on record as saying that evolution, the Big Bang and embryology are “lies straight from the pit of Hell” (BTW, he’s a physician), there’s a local campaign to write in “Charles Darwin” against him. Our electronic voting machines DO allow write-ins, fortunately.

  60. Voted from abroad! I’ve been living abroad for years (considering I’m only 26) and this is the first time I’ve been able to vote from abroad. I always tried before, but the system was too convoluted with arbitrary early deadlines. I’d call in September to get my ballot and be told I missed the deadline. (In September!) This year, it was so easy! Democracy is getting easier for some Americans. No reason not to take advantage of it.

  61. Mailed our ballots in Monday! Coulda saved the stamp had I been driving past one of the drop boxes (like white postal service drop boxes) but I’ve been way busy in the studio glazing pottery for the holiday sales…

    Gotta say I love Oregon’s mail-in ballots. I always used to get in the voting booth and discover that there was a water district commissioner or circuit judge race that I hadn’t heard about, and wasn’t in the Voter’s Guide. This way I can sit at the kitchen table with the Guide, newspapers, my laptop and my ballot and take the time to research even the stealth races.

    I remember some ridiculous arguments against the system when we first instituted it, fears of fraud, undue influence, yadda yadda. The strangest was a commentaor on NPR, outraged that Oregon was doing away with the symbol of American democracy, the voting booth. My response was that as symbols go, my kitchen table was a much better one. The voting booth is owned by the government, has only one use, and only gets used once every four years. Whereas my kitchen table is owned by me, has a variety of uses, and is an everyday part of my life. Which would better describe a working democracy?

  62. As a Californian, I’m …ummm…. reasonably certain that my vote will be counted and reported accurately. i’m wondering (ignoring the subjectiveness of “reasonably”) how you feel about that in Ohio. (If memory serves, I trusted the Government there when I left the state (Toledo/Trilby) c. 1940 at about half-way to Voting Age, but recent trends have been disturbing.)

  63. I like voting on election day, because I enjoy people-watching. Seeing who is actually showing up at the polls gives me an idea of how a particular election will go. I even changed who i was going to vote for on one occasion because the city council candidate stood in the rain all day waving to traffic and ecouraging prosective voters. (why would I vote for someone who didn’t know enough to get out of the rain you ask? I thought it showed determination and resilliance, which city council members need) His sandwich board election day campaining was even adopted by both mayoral candidates and their supporters this past year at all the major intersections of our city in the special run off election.
    It’s also easy for me to vote on my way home from work, since I work nights and get to the polling place around 7:30am. No worries even if there are long lines, cause I got all day. But I do make out a list of my choices beforehand, so even if I’m half asleep from a rough night I can get through the ballot quickly and accurately.
    Being a fellow Ohioan, I will be thankful for the end of this election season though. Inundated with ads doesn’t begin to describe it. Three days without power after Sandy’s wind had fun with us only pointed out that the radio had more ads than news or music.

  64. @Sean Eric Fagan Depends on your states laws. Here in Minnesota they monitor the obits & weed out known dead voters. YMMV. Election laws are all governed by the various states. In some felons are never allowed to vote in some they are after then have completed their sentences.

    I know its late but I would ask that before you vote you know who you are voting for and why. Don’t go pull the lever or color the dot just because there is a D or an R or because they are or are not the incumbent. Take a few minutes and learn who is on the ballot and something about what they believe and what they think needs to be done.

    Here in MN the Secretary of States web site provides sample ballots – enter your home address & you get an exact copy of the ballot you will see. If your SoS does not offer that write letters! I as able to discover a total nut job was running for an open judgeship and a couple of other totally unqualified doofs running for some other minor offices. They might win because nobody takes the time to learn about them but they won’t get my vote.

  65. I ended up voting on Wednesday. It was simple, easy and fast. There was only one city initiative on the ballot, it was for “PreK4SA”, a 1/8 of 1% sales tax initiative for underpriveledged 4 y/o’s full day kindergarten. The only qualms about that initiative is that it is means based and not everyone in the city who is paying the tax can take advantage of it (but also, anyone traveling through the city won’t either, so there we are). But, hey. If the state of Texas is cutting education funding by the brazillions, then the city of San Antonio must step up and take an effort to get children educated. So I voted yes for it.

    I also voted straight democratic ticket, since there are no good republicans in Texas. What can I say. You all know it’s true. The races where no democrats were running, I voted either Green party or if there was no Green party candidate, I voted Libertarian. But that was rare.

  66. Megpie71. In a firt-past-the-post race the winning candidate needs only to get 1 mor vote than the 2nd-placed candidate. In a multicandidate race that might be 10% or less of the people who vote. In the recent London mayoral election, there were 2 serious candidtates and about a dozen wo got a few thousand votes which seems to be the norm here. It is rare in the UK to have more than 3 candidates who have a real chance of winning a first-past-the-post election, though probably less rare at local (council) level.

  67. I voted absentee, as I will be out of town next week. John has Mr. Boehner as his rep, I have Michele Bachmann (yikes!). I voted a Democratic ticket nationally, here and there for the other things.

  68. This is my first comment here – great blog!

    Re: voting – I understand where you’re coming from, John. I live in District 1, not too far from your district – so while I don’t have John Boehner, I do have Steve Chabot, who isn’t much better, and I live in a pretty red area of Cincinnati. Since I’m within walking distance of my voting location, I will wait until election day, but I always vote, so this time will be no different. I have never voted straight Democratic ticket, but I’m so sick of the GOP move to the right that I will this time.

  69. I’ll be voting on Tuesday, in the morning before I go take the GRE. Hopefully the lines won’t be too long, or I’ll have to abandon ship until the evening. I have a rough idea who I’m voting for (still need to read up on local stuff) and know I will probably be voting a mostly Democratic ticket, as I disagree with a lot of policies the Republicans have been touting lately. Somehow in my research, though, I missed the fact that Boehner is running unopposed! This is disappointing, as I was looking forward to voting against him. Oh well. :(

  70. I got my voting done yesterday as well. For the longest time I wasn’t going to vote this election. I didn’t feel one candidate was better than the other for the most part and so I decided to “vote” by not voting. After reading a blog entry and it’s subsequent comments here that made good valid points as to why you should vote I started looking deeper and found that there is a large difference between the candidates and that I couldn’t squander my vote by doing nothing. So thanks for peaking my interest enough to go out and do the research and get off my ass and vote.

  71. I always vote after picking the kids up from school on election day. It tends to be pretty dead around 3 and I am trying my hardest to teach civics through examples. The sample ballot available here in MN is pretty cool, I always put a link up on Facebook for my “less political” friends to survey before they arrive on election day and decide to vote alphabetically (true story!!!!).

  72. A reminder to all my fellow Minnesotans – if you cast a ballot but leave the state amendment votes (gay marriage and voter ID) blank then they will automatically count as a “No.” This can be a good or bad thing depending on your views regarding these amendments.

  73. Early voting, mail-in voting, and the like are all terrific, but I enjoy voting on Election Day. My local polling place is walking distance from my house, but my main reason is to thank the poll workers. I was a poll worker for several years, and a poll inspector a couple of times: very long days for very little pay, and most years those days consist of long stretches of boredom interrupted periodically by stupid questions. They’re volunteers for democracy, and I want to let them know I appreciate their efforts.

  74. My husband has been TRYING to vote early here in Maryland. Traffic on the street where the closest polling place is located was so backed up last night that he couldn’t even get TO the place! He might end up having to take time off work on Tuesday. The huge turnout certainly says something about the benefits of making it easier for people to vote. How about changing from Tuesday to Saturday for Election Day????
    As for me, I’m blessed with plenty of leave and I like to take Election Day off and vote in the middle of the day.

  75. Likewise:
    1. I voted. I did it early as well to avoid the lines.

    2. I did vote straight ticket, Republican. Best choice all around.

    3. No such thing as a unopposed Democrat in these parts….. Wel I take that back, there has been in the past and I skipped them as well although next time I will try the write myself in thing.

    4. I agree that all citizen’s should get out their and vote for whomever they choose, it certainly is important.

  76. We vote in person so we can take our kids with us. My oldest son turns 18 the day AFTER the election (which sucks) but every time we vote, we tell our kids we are doing it for them. Next Wednesday, my son will be old enough to be drafted, so you better bet I’ll be voting for Obama.

    The League of Women voters has information on your local polling places, candidates, and other information. It’s worth checking out.

  77. I would rather have uninformed people voting haphazardly than staying home.

    The reason is that I’m thinking about the long game, and the cultivation of informed voters. If you actually vote, if you remember voting and have some idea what to expect, you’re that much more likely to be engaged in the election next time around. You’ll have a better idea of what kinds of candidates and questions are going to be on the ballot, and what you might look into. It might take several cycles.

    If low-information voters stay home to keep their ignorance from infecting the vote, or because they think it doesn’t matter, that’s a dead end. They’re going to stay outside of the democratic process. The collection of people who can actually swing things gets smaller and smaller, and the chance that we get an oligarchy running things or total chaos increases. It sounds great if you think you’re some kind of vanguard, but I’m not interested in that.

  78. I’m in Massachusetts so I can’t vote early. Election Day is a school holiday, so I’m taking the day off to look after my kid. We’ll go to the polling place together; the poll workers recognize my daughter and always ask where she is when my wife or I shows up without her. I’ve heard there’s some possibility of a nasty northeaster (though it hasn’t shown up in the NWS predictions yet), so we might not walk.

  79. Voting by mail gives me flexibility in my schedule and relieves anxiety I might not get back to my precinct in time to vote. I just mailed in my ballot today, and I’m breathing a sigh of relief.

  80. I’ll vote on Tuesday. Our polling station is right across the street, and it is never crowded right when it opens. No reason to vote early, in my case.

  81. I did find it amusingly apt that the articles from the libertarian magazine Reason linked in the 8:55 comment both led off with the “If I can’t personally change the outcome of an election with my single vote, then why bother?” argument.

    (Personally, I’m just as happy to have folks who can’t see beyond “what’s in it for me personally?” not voting, if that’s what they prefer. I don’t vote often for libertarian candidates, for similar reasons.)

    Me, I voted via absentee ballot yesterday at City Hall, the last day I could do so in Philadelphia. I’m flying back from out of town on Election Day itself, so I wanted to make sure I got *some* votes in if my flight got delayed. (If I get back early enough, I’m supposed to go to my polling place, tell them to toss my absentee ballot, and then vote in person. Which I might do– I left the ballot blank on some state-level offices because I didn’t think I could make an informed choice then, but between now and Tuesday I could catch up on those candidates and their background and positions.)

  82. Is your name on the ballot? John Scalzi for President [of Uber-Cool Club, World] If not, what’s the point, man? I ain’t got no book deal. I ain’t got no cats with weird names? I ain’t go no friend from the Star Trek universe. I ain’t got no footage of me with Oprah. I ain’t got no million dollar endorsement deal with Coke Zero. I ain’t no fancy pants . . . I’ll take my chances with the educated masses of these United States of America.

  83. Scalzi US House of Representatives 2014. Slogan “Just so Boehner is not unopposed”.

    Why did you vote for Republicans in local elections? Just curious why you liked these guys.

  84. I’ve not voted yet. NY doesn’t really allow early voting, and since this is the first presidential election that i’m eligible to vote in where I haven’t been working as a polling place officer, I’m actually sorta looking forward to going in and voting. (I’m also *really* looking forward to obsessively watching election results, which as an election officer in CA I could never, never do).

    I’m intending to vote a straight-ish party ticket. I’m so incensed at the Republicans in the House that I can’t bring myself to vote for Republican House or Senate candidates, and I more or less like my local state legislators (Democrats all). But since NY has a wierd cross-filing system where you can vote for the same candidate as the representative of, say, either the Democratic party or the Working Familes’ Party, wherever I can, I’ll vote for the “democrat” as the representative of some other party. :)

  85. As a Canadian, this is one of the weirdest things I can see about U.S. politics (and I’ll cop to finding a *lot* of it weird). The “heart of democracy” give the power to vote on Election Day to unelected corporate overlords. The first time I heard “couldn’t vote because [she] had to work all the time the polling place was open” I literally boggled.

    Socialist Canada mandates that there must be a block of three consecutive hours sometime during the polling day when employees can go vote. If that exists directly, work is off the hook. If that is not the case, the employer must grant time off sufficient to make such a block, on penalty of large fines. Those fines have been applied – but not often, and rarely twice to the same company.

  86. @Mycroft W – In Illinois election code:
    “Q: Do employers have to give employees time off from work to vote?
    A: Yes, employees are entitled to two hours off work:
    – The employee must give the employer notice prior to Election Day. (The Election Code does not specify what type of notice is required);
    – The employer may specify the 2-hour period during which the employee may be absent;
    – The employer must permit a 2-hour absence during hours if the employee’s working time starts before 7:59 a.m. (within two hours of the opening of polls) and the end time is after 5:01 p.m. (within two hours of the closing of polls).

    No employer shall refuse an employee the privilege of time off from work. No employer shall subject the employee to a penalty, including a reduction in compensation, due to such an absence from work.”

    Looks like they only MUST supply time off if the employee doesn’t have a two hour window outside of regularly scheduled working hours while the polls are open – and they are open for 13 hours here.

  87. I’ll be voting Tuesday. I’m glad you mentioned researching ballot initiatives, Mr. Scalzi. I know people can find them boring or hard to interpret, but many of the proposals will have more of an effect on the average voter’s daily life than who holds national offices.

    And while I’d prefer that people pay attention to elections, I welcome low-information voters to the polls. Voting is a way of being engaged in the community. I think forming the intention to vote (even a few days beforehand) encourages people to seek out more information. Just seeing a ballot can teach something about a community and its concerns. If people vote regularly, I believe many will eventually become at least a little better-informed about the issues and the candidates.

    They’ll also become better-informed about the mechanics of voting – when to register, where to go, what kind of ID to bring. Annecdotally, it seems that many people struggle with voting the first time they attempt it. I think it’s good to figure out the process as soon as possible, especially for young people, who are apathetic or uninformed about one particular election but may end up being very invested in a later one.

  88. Those judicial races I mentioned disliking? There was an attack ad released today against the challenger, Sam Ervin, in the state Supreme Court race. It makes much hay out of his having given money to “convicted felon Mike Easley”. For those of you not conversant with NC politics, Mike Easley is a former governor, who was convicted of knowingly filing a false campaign finance report. Which means that anyone who ever donated to one of his political campaigns (as Ervin once did) has, in fact, given money to a convicted felon, albeit well before he was actually convicted of a felony.

    I’m sure you will all be shocked! shocked, I tell you! to find out that this ad was largely funded by a Republican SuperPAC.

  89. I’ve been working at the local board of elections this cycle. People were waiting 2 hours last night to vote, and this morning by 9 a.m. there was another hour wait.

    I can understand the attraction to the idea of voting early, but sheesh! If I weren’t working there, I wouldn’t bother. It’s faster at the polls.

  90. Not even in the country and not likely to move back any time soon so I passed on voting this year. Equally weird is the fact that the country I’ve moved to has compulsory voting.

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