Friday, October 31, 2008

Vote Early, Vote Often

Okay, of course the second part of that title is a joke. It should be assumed, but I need to say it explicitly or the right-wingers will use this blog as evidence of voter fraud from the Obama camp. So, here's the real title: "Vote Early, but only once."

About 30 states now have "early voting" in which certain poling places are opened up in the week(s) preceding the official election day. I love this. As much as I usually love to experience the excitement of the "real" election day, I love expanding democracy even more. And having at least a full week for citizens to cast their votes is having a tremendous effect on turn-out this year. Regardless of who wins (or which ballot propositions pass), this is a good thing for our democracy.

I went yesterday, to the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters, in San Jose, California. It was fairly well organized; could have been a little better, but could have been a lot worse. On arrival I was asked to take a number; number 74. They were calling number 24 at that time.

This was much better than standing in line, as we got to sit around the lobby of the building. Not the most comfortable seating, but better than standing. It took about 40 minutes for them to process the 50 people ahead of me and call 74.

Once my number was called, it still was not time to vote. That's just to talk to the counter clerk, who punches your name and address into the computer to verify your registration. They then order up your ballot. (Santa Clara County is fairly large, with several cities, and school districts, etc., so there are dozens of possible ballots based on your specific address).

It took about another 15 minutes, waiting back out in the lobby, till another clerk appeared with a box of absentee ballots and called out my name. We could either take the ballot home with us and vote by mail, or use one of the booths to mark our ballot there and return it immediately. I chose to vote there.

After marking the ballot, I put it in the slot, and peeked into the back room where it looked to be about 25 or 30 people sorting and processing the voted ballots. Remember the scene from the original movie version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, where Veruca Salt's father is having all the peanut shellers opening up chocolate bars? Picture that with absentee ballots and you have an idea of the operation.

All-in-all, a very interesting experience, and a great satisfaction to have this done with, so I can ignore all the political ads for the next week. On the news they said that they expect 1/3 of the votes cast nationwide to be done through early voting, but yesterday, I think they said they'd already processed 30% of the expected vote locally.

The whole thing took just a little over an hour, altogether. Considering the crowds expected at polling places next Tuesday, if you can get your voting done early, I highly recommend it. Especially if you've moved or are a first time voter, or have any other reason to question whether or not you'll have any trouble at the polls.

For those keeping score, on the partisan offices I voted for two Democrats (including Barack Obama), one Republican (yes, really!), and one Green. NO on 4 & 8.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ron Howard's Call to Action

Ron Howard and a couple of his old TV buddies have something to say about this election (and an amusing way of saying it)...

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Standing up for What's Right (No on Prop 8)

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
(you know the source)

Does this apply to gays and lesbians? It seems to me that marriage would be covered under those unalienable rights. "Defense of marriage" laws today are no different or less hateful to me than anti-miscegenation laws a generation ago.

In California we're about to have that referendum again, with Proposition 8 on our November 4 ballot. I can't see how anybody could view this as anything other than legalized discrimination, and yet according to the polls, it just might pass. It's rare that I feel ashamed to be a Californian, but this is one of those moments.

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Fear and Loathing on North Santa Cruz Blvd.

Yesterday, we were walking along the main drag through Los Gatos, North Santa Cruz Ave., when we spotted a woman with a sign reading:

Obama = ACORN
McCain - Palin

While I bit my tongue, Leslie calmly started in on her with, "Where do you get your information?"

"I read," the woman answered.

"Read what?" Leslie countered.

"A lot, you should read too." (A slightly better answer than Sarah Palin gave to Katy Couric.)

I asked, "Don't you think this charge of socialism is a little inflamatory?" She didn't want to talk about socialism just yet, she wanted to talk about ACORN.

"He was an organizer for ACORN!" (Fact: Obama was an organizer for Project Vote in 1992-93, not ACORN. Project Vote is currently a partner with ACORN on one project, but that partnership came about years later. This woman didn't care to hear that, she reads, after all.)

"What you're doing is guilt by association. Why don't you have a sign saying something positive about your candidate instead of smearing Obama with these outrageous claims?" I politely suggested (well, as polite as I could muster being as angry as I was; the result of over-caffeination from some yummy French Roast earlier that morning).

"I'm an independent," was her reason for not saying something positive about McCain.

"OK... I'm an independent too," I offered, "and part of the reason for that is because of dirty campaigning like this." We go around again about guilt by association, and a few other things, each time she refuses to answer direct questions, or answers with an absurd question or suggestion to me. Somewhere along the way, Leslie has given up getting a word in once I'd started, and has crossed the street ahead of me.

Again, I tried to ask her why she wasn't out promoting her candidate. This time I tried to give her something nice to say, "Why don't you have a sign saying 'McCain = Leadership' or 'He's a hero' or 'Independent for McCain'?"

This time she didn't even give me her independent line, this time she changed the topic to the mortgage crisis and implied that Obama was responsible for it.

I was shocked, as I didn't get her reference to the false rumor that the current crisis is because Obama and ACORN each worked to force banks to make loans to poor minorities. (In real life, ACORN and Obama have each fought against redlining practices to make sure banks treated similarly qualified applicants equally, regardless of color).

But since I didn't catch her veiled reference to a proven lie, I instead answered, "Neither one of these guys is directly responsible for the current crisis, but if either one of them is to share in the blame, it's McCain, who's been a Reaganite de-regulator for 26 years, and it's de-regulation and the lack of oversight and enforcement that's lead to this meltdown."

Then I went too far for her: "McCain was part of the Keating Five, after all!"

"Ah ha!," I made her happy, apparently. "Talk about guilt by association!" She finally actually responded directly to something I said, but it was again far from reality.

"What 'guilt by association'? He was one of the five! He was..." she didn't let me finish.

"Have you ever lived in a socialist country?" she asked me.

"What has that got to do with..."

"They're trying to steal the election! ACORN is registering fake people and they're stealing the election!" I tried to bring up 2000 and 2004 as examples of stolen elections, but she was done with that topic. "They're against us!" she cried.

"Against who?"

"Against us! ACORN is against Americans!"

"Because... why? Because they represent poor people or..." before I could ask if it's because they represent minorities she's cut me off and is onto another subject. Out of the corner of my eye I see the light has changed and I have the walk signal I'd been waiting for (and missed the last two or three cycles).

This time I cut her off, "Sorry, I've got to get back to the real world. Have a nice day."

Walking back a few minutes later, we noticed that she'd moved on. Leslie was concerned for a moment that I was too rough on her, and scared her from voicing her opinion, but I'm sure she just moved on to a busier intersection someplace else.

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