Folks, I hate to break it to you all, but there are a boat-load of truly Stupid People out there. Yeah, yeah, I realize that you know that, and you are all doing your best to insulate yourselves from those folks, but the really scary news is that many of those very Stupid folks exercise their right to display that stupidity by voting.
Let me explain.
I spent all of yesterday (Yes boys and girls, I mean ALL of yesterday, I got up at 4:00 a.m.; arrived at the polling place at 5:00, opened it to the public at 6:00, ran it for 14 hours straight, and then closed it down at 8:00 p.m. I then spent the next three-and-a-half hours cleaning up, counting votes, and making sure that they got safely delivered to City Hall for official counting and registering.) Making sure that my district’s right for stupid people to attempt self-governing actually worked.
I say that people in general (and voters in particular) are stupid as there are many of them who can’t seem to understand how a simple levered voting machine operates. Seriously folks, these are some of the simplest mechanical machines ever developed by man, and there are some (several, numerous) otherwise well-educated, and apparently intelligent people who are completely baffled by them (as well as by the rather simple instructions on how to operate them).
Unavoidable aside, everyone seems terrified by the concept of electronic voting machines apparently (and at least partially) because they are afraid of change, and feel that the “new fangled” machines will be difficult and/or confusing to operate. Well, near as I can tell, the old/current-style machines are confusing to folks who have — by all observable information — been voting on these very same machines for as long (or longer ) as the machines themselves have been around!
I found myself advising folks my own age (50s) on how to use the machines when it was clear that this was not the first time they ever voted. People (who had been standing in line, and presumably watching those in front of them), couldn’t figure out how to operate the handle to close the curtain, or which way to exit the voting area.
People, virtually every other aspect of your life is electronic/digital, from the ATM to the self-serve machines located in gas stations, supermarkets, and other stores. I’m truly baffled that there is this much hub-bub over electronic machines. Nearly everyone from Day Traders to average citizens will buy and sell over the Internet (from ebay to etrade) pay bills, access their health and insurance information over the net without a second thought, but elect an official on a non-Internet electronic machine, oh Hell No!
Anyway, to return to my point; the voting machines we use here in CT is really very simple (so simple it was probably developed back in the ‘40s or ‘50s and has been in use ever since — seriously, in fact, I think that if I were to truly look hard enough, I could still find Eisenhower’s name on some of the ballots). At any rate, they are a portable booth with a lever-operated curtain to offer the illusion of privacy to those inside while they cast their ballots. (One cute little girl in the arms of her father actually asked if the people inside were going potty, to which I muttered (not to her), “Yes honey, and the people inside are taking a great big poop all over the electoral process”)
As you enter the booth, there is a lever with a red handle directly in front of you tipped to the left side of the booth. Upon entering, you grasp the handle, and move it to the right, closing the curtain. In front of you there are a number of rows with little levers. Each row represents a particular political party. This year, the Republicans had the top row and the Democrats had the second row down. (Last year and next, the Dems were/will be on top (it alternates every other year.) Under these two were (in order) Libertarian, Concerned Citizens, Green, Working Families, and CT for Lieberman. Across the top, are listed the various offices for which we were voting (including Governor, U.S. Senator, U.S. Rep, State Senator, State Rep, etc.)
So there is the scenario, across the top are the offices, and down the left side are the parties. This forms a basic grid, or spread sheet (much like a Super Bowl Betting pool). Filling in the blocks of the grid are the individuals running for each office (e.g., under U.S. Senator you have Alan Schlesinger (R), Ned Lamont (D), Timothy A. Knibbs (Concerned Cit), Ralph A. Ferrucci (Green), and Joe Lieberman (Joe). There is no longer any party lever (and hasn’t been for some 20 years) so, to vote for someone, you have to specifically make the effort to vote for them and actively pull their lever down.
As you can imagine, if you were to vote for a specific individual to attain a specific office, then logic would dictate that you wouldn’t be able to vote for another individual for that very same office (we can only have one Governor, for instance). When you then move the red-handed lever from the right back to the left, you not only cast your vote (moving the little levers back up to their original position), but open the curtain at the same time, thus finishing your turn in the booth.
Do you want to know how many people called out from inside the booth claiming that they couldn’t move down a specific lever? No, you really don’t. As it turns out, there are quite a number of very stupid people who could neither grasp the simple concept that rows went across, and columns went up and down, nor that you could only vote for one person in a specific column. (And yes, most of these stupid folks turned out to be Republicans.) Seems that these folk tended to vote for everyone in the GOP that was running for office, and then voted for Joe, apparently blissfully unaware that a vote for Joe meant that GOP candidate Schlesinger simply couldn’t win as well (“Al, I’ll work Monday thru Friday afternoon, and you take Friday night from Sundown, Saturday, Sunday, and all Jewish Holidays.”)
Yep, Stupid People abound. (I won’t even tell you about the woman who didn’t seem to grasp that she couldn’t bring her two dogs (one medium-sized, and other quite large) into the polling place. Ah yes, the joys of the democratic process.