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A public conversation about our worlds.

  • Monday: Morgan J. Locke
  • Tuesday: Madeleine E. Robins
  • Wednesday: Maureen F. McHugh
  • Thursday: Bradley Denton
  • Friday: Steven Gould
  • Saturday: Caroline Spector
  • Sunday: Rory Harper

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¡Ya Voté!

February 5th, 2008 by Madeleine Robins

Stupidity, or the Law of Unintended Consequences?

My first official shot at voting was in 1972, when I was a sophomore in college. It was an exciting, scary time to be voting, particularly if you were one of the newly franchised under-21 crowd. It was also an exciting, scary time to be a machine politician with an influx of passionate new voters. And so the pols of New London, Connecticut (where my college was located and where I registered to vote), worried that all the damned college kids would vote for people they didn’t want voted for, particularly in the local election. Now, to the best of my recollection, I didn’t much care about the local politics; anything below congress was pretty much lost on me. But the pols weren’t about to take a chance on me and the thousand or so new voters at my college. A few months before the actual election they challenged our registrations on grounds of residency. And stirred up a hornet’s nest.

Many people who had a passionate interest in the presidential election but had not much cared, up to that point, about the local scene, got interested Real Fast. Meetings were held. Lawyers for the group were found. At least one faculty member, as I recall, ran for local office after the challenge. I was one of a bunch of people who went door to door in New London, imploring people to vote for the new progressive slate that had not existed before the challenge. We organized rides. We countered the fearful protests of people who said they were afraid if they didn’t vote the “right” way they’d lose their public housing. We were, briefly, on fire.

And all because someone tried to take away our newly minted franchise. So here’s something I have in common with my Suffragist fore-mothers: I take voting seriously. Even when the cause seems lost or the choice of candidates sucks rocks, I savor the action itself, the pushing of toggles and levers (in New York) or the marking and scanning of my ballot (in California). When they were small, I took the girls with me to vote, so they’d know how important it was. It’s my annual shot at letting the world know how I think things should be run.

California is expecting a record turnout today: 56%. As records go, hardly impressive. As with so much in the Land of My Birth, we could do a hell of a lot better. If you’re in a Super Tuesday state, go swell the numbers. Vote. Bump it up to 57% or 59% or even 60%. Change the world.

Posted in Daily Life, Dammit!, Education, History, Mad, Politics | 9 Comments »

9 Responses

  1. Sarcasm Girl, daughter of the esteemed Madeleine Robins Says:

    GO MAMA!

    …56% is pathetic, people. Come ON! Let’s MOVE. If my 12-year-old sister can change the world in one fell swoop but the whole population of America can’t… that’s sad. So let’s go already!

    *does a little voting jig*

  2. Bradley Denton Says:

    This post makes my patriotic heart swell. I mean it. Thanks, Mad.

    So often here in Texas, I grit my teeth and go the polls with the sure knowledge that my vote will be swept away to the tune of a gigantic red-state flushing sound. But Madeleine’s right: All y’all in a Super Tuesday state can really, truly, and for-real make history today.

    Go for it, people.

  3. Sara Says:

    Kansas (if you’re a Dem) is a super state for the first time in my memory. I plan on voicing my opinion. Of course the weather prediction is for a half foot of snow.

  4. will shetterly Says:

    My new cause: Election Day Registration. It’s worked for decades in states like Minnesota.

  5. Paula Helm Murray Says:

    We all went early today because the weather is going to turn to sh!t by end of the day.

    Voter turnout didn’t appear to be affected by the rain, though the Repub pile of ballots was still thick (Dem not so much). But then I live in a very blue district.

  6. marty Says:

    I was about 12 years old when my mother gave me her vote. I took it very seriously (and still do). Every item was researched and debated. I filled out the ballot and she signed it. She did this until I leagally had my own vote. We debated the issues until the day she died.

  7. Dr Paisley Says:

    Kansas is a caucus state again, as it was in ’76 when I went to be part of the process. ’80 was more fun, when the primary that the state held just for favorite psycho Bob “Heal my withered arm” Dole wound up with him losing to Reagan and John Anderson. Hope you had fun, Sara.

  8. Morgan J. Locke Says:

    I’ve been glued to the coverage. This is exciting. I like having two candidates, both of whom I like, running for the Democratic nomination.

  9. Caroline Spector Says:

    Well, us Dems in Texas might actually make a difference this year.

    I just hope that after this bitterly fought primary our party isn’t completely factured. But I’m a Democrat and I’m used to snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

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