Oh, yesterday’s election was dreamy. Like one of those dreams where you keep telling yourself wake-up-wake-up-it’s-just-a-dream but it keeps going on and on and on. Which is to say: Abysmal turnout, yet again. Thirty-eight voters all day. When that happens, you find yourself staring at the animation on the voter-assist terminal screen. It recycles every three seconds. There are 3,600 seconds in an hour, so it played 1,200 times in 60 minutes. Times…13 hours of voting. It played at least 15,600 times.
I think I watched 12,000 of them. It was in my eyeline.
This is my last year in this precinct, I think. Next year I want a new assignment. Absentee vote-counting, maybe. The same insanely long shift in a mask – because we will be wearing masks forever and ever, that’s clear to me now, get used to the smell of Purell – but constant work, no idleness.
Every so often we’d remark on the lack of voters. I’d say, “Mayor’s race a foregone conclusion. City council the only real races. Low-income precinct. It’s just not an exciting election.” And one of my fellow poll workers would say, every time, “With legalization of psychedelics on the ballot? How can you SAY that?” And I’d laugh, and watch the animation 500 more times, and two hours later, we’d have the same exchange.
It wasn’t a good day for Democrats. I’m not an optimist. I think, in three more years, we’ll have a Trump-Biden rematch (because Biden won’t yield, because…I don’t know why). Trump will win, and American democracy as we’ve known it all our lives will be effectively over. Is that too strong? Maybe so, but you know what the Michigan Secretary of State did this week? Announced that starting soon, non-binary residents can choose X on their drivers’ licenses, instead of M or F. What a victory. What timing. She ran on reducing the wait in license branches to 30 minutes or less. Then the pandemic hit, and they went to an appointment system, which she announced would now be permanent. However, appointments are impossible to get unless you know how to game the system (basically, go on the site at 10 seconds past 8 a.m. or whenever the system goes live and try to snag one of the same-day appointments). So now, instead of waiting in line for an hour to renew your driver’s license (which can now have an X on it!!!!), you can have the experience of sitting in your own home, renewing your driver’s license the way you used to buy U2 tickets.
But in all of this, it’s key to remember that the other thing the secretary of state does? Run elections.
Just once, I want Democrats to behave as though they understand what the stakes are, and stop behaving as though saying “pregnant people” is some sort of landmark in civil rights. And stop handing their opponents the clubs to beat them with.
To be smarter, in other words.
It’s time for me to counter the degradation of all that sitting and snack-nibbling with a workout. Discuss.