Monday, November 8, 2010

Election apprehension

Last Tuesday was my very first time as a voting Texan, so I was pretty excited about going to the polls. Until I actually got to my polling place and remembered the extreme anxiety I experience every time I vote.

Every election day I somehow lose my grasp on the English language completely. In LA, I used to march in with my sample ballot all filled out, meaning all I had to do was a "copy and paste," essentially. But even then I'd become seized with doubt and spend a good five minutes on every check box, making double and triple sure that I hadn't checked the opposite of the one I meant.

My voting anxiety was so bad during the 2000 presidential election that it carried over to the next day. I had been so afraid that I would accidentally vote for George W. that when an acquaintance asked me who I'd voted for, I blurted out, "George Bush!" (*GASP* *SHAME*) "NO! I mean, AL GORE!" Dude thought I was a royal nutjob, I'm sure.

So last week when it came time for my first ever Texas voting experience, I was even more thrown off than usual. First of all, in California when you vote on a proposition, your choices are "Yes" and "No." But in Texas, or at least in Austin, your options are "Agree" or "Disagree." Considering my already borderline illiteracy at the ballot, this really sent me into a doubt spiral. Did I agree? Was agreeing the same thing as yes? What's with all the trick questions!!?

Add to that the newfangled touch-screen voting system, and I was suddenly a geriatric dyslexic attempting to program a VCR. What should have taken me 5 minutes probably took more like a week. The same fear I always have when I go to the polls took over -- that I would somehow accidentally check the box or push the button that means I'm in favor of something horrific like murdering all the puppies and kittens.

Artistic representation:
But afterward, once I convinced myself that I hadn't accidentally murdered any innocent baby animals, I was filled with exhilaration. I'm a citizen! A voter! A very important person! But when you are a Democrat voting in Texas, those warm fuzzy feelings are pretty short-lived. Kind of like writing a letter to Santa Claus -- you're full of hopes and dreams while you're doing it, but the next day you realize you're probably going to have to settle for a Cosco 6-pack of tube socks and whatever flavor of Tic-Tacs were left at the grocery store on Christmas Eve. Le sigh.

In other voting news, I kept up a little bit with what was going on at the polls in my former home state of Cali, most notably Prop. 19 for the legalization of marijuana. It was defeated, but more people came out in support of it than I would have thought. This photo my sister-in-law posted from her local Taco Bell is one of the best political endorsements I've ever seen:

Does anyone else get super nervous about making a mistake at the polls?

1 comment: said...

I don't usually get nervous, but this year was tough. I accidentally selected "Espanol" when the machine asked me to make a language selection. I couldn't figure out how to go back and fix it, so I ended up voting in Spanish!!