Voting… the Dark Ages way

Unless I feel particularly inspired, I don’t go out of my way to vote, despite the best efforts of the Strib cartoonist today. Or maybe it wasn’t the cartoonist (is that Sack?) because there’s no signature or copyright on it, which is odd.

But the idea that unless you vote, you don’t have a right to engage in a discussion about the future of the country is flawed logic because it assumes that the choice I’m given is a clear one; that there is a candidate representative of that element of the discourse I could bring to the table, were I not muted by my decision not to vote.

Don’t get me wrong. I “get” the old “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain” thing. I just happen to think, yes, you can.

And if we really want people to vote: let’s get the process out of the 19th century.

Think about it: in order to vote, I have to go to a specific physical place and only to a specific physical place at a specific time ( 7 a.m. – 8 p.m.). OK, that sounds easy enough. But, remember: the stated goal is to get people to vote.

Take me this morning: I had a meeting in St. Paul at 11 and I’ll be working later in the evening than usual. I was doing a couple of interviews with people at home for a story I’m writing and when I looked at the clock, it was 10 o’clock and I’m still in my pajamas, banging away on a laptop on the couch while watching a combination of NASA TV and SportsCenter.

I could miss the meeting and be late for work and stop to vote or I could bag voting altogether. If there were a candidate who truly inspired me today, maybe that choice would be easier. But there’s only a few who are kinda, sorta, maybe somebody I’d like to see in office. And, frankly, the only thing that really motivated me to vote today was a local school referendum.

I chose to get to work on time and get to my meeting. And, I’m not driving back to Woodbury to go vote; not at $2.39 a gallon and an additional $7 to park when I finally get back to work. And I’m not going to be home before the polls close. OK, fine, that’s just me. I’m cheap. But this is my life.

So here’s what I’m thinking. Assign me to a particular ward or precinct, but let me vote anywhere at any polling place in Minnesota where I happen to be. Sure, that puts the old “sign here on this big pile of papers of people’s names” job to bed, but so what? It’s not about them. It’s about me.

I can go to any bank branch in the world, it seems, and get my money out. I can use my store credit card at a zillion different locations in the world. But I can only vote in one spot?

Granted it would take — oh, no! — machines and computers to make this happen, but, you know, in 2006, machines and computers are making a lot of things happen and I tend to think they work better than humans.

Heck, give me a card and a pin number. This could work. Trust me. It’s pretty how much how I do my taxes and I haven’t been jailed yet.

Here’s another idea: Don’t have voting machines. Vote at your ATM. Ever get to make two withdrawls and not be charged for one? Me neither.

Discuss.