Yesterday, I exercised my 19th Amendment right to get my lady-vote on by participating in my very first Democratic caucus. Now that I don’t work in newspapers, I can reveal to you that I vote for the Ds. Unless the Republican candidate is super hot, in which case, my loyalties are easily shifted. Anyway, normally I don’t give a rat’s fanny about local politics. It holds about as much appeal for me as a paper cut or a smelly sneaker. But for some reason, I was moved to attend the caucus. Or, as one funny friend called it, the cockus because it’s kind of a big sausage fest. Zing!
I had heard the caucus might take a few hours, so I packed up my little backpack full of snacks and drinks and puzzles and games. Because I’m actually a five-year-old and need to be entertained at all times. My partner and I pedaled over to Memorial Auditorium, only to see massive lines of American patriots queueing to participate in the democratic process. Nice.I love America more than you. And standing in line is a great start to a day full of waiting.
When we finally got inside and checked in, it felt like we were at some huge party, minus the hookers and colossal mountains of coke. There was a real DJ, not one of those bums who play at weddings in stained, rented tuxes. There were signs and balloons and better snacks than I brought. And there were tons of people. The total number of voters was around 1,400, but with all the kiddies there, the crowd must have been closer to 50,000.
We found seats next to some friends and immediately we were bombarded by supporters of all the four candidates. They wanted our vote. Bad. So bad. It made me feel important. They needed me. I’m totally caucusing every day of my life henceforth. Their persuasion was all for naught, since I already knew who I was voting for — ME!
The atmosphere in the auditorium was so festive and fun. Everyone was gently ribbing each other about how crap their candidates were. And by everyone I mean me. I kid. All the candidates I’m sure would make a fine mayor. Why anyone would want that job is beyond me, but then I have no ambition.
For each round, I figured I would use a different criterium to determine for whom I would vote. In the first round, the criterium was who was best dressed. Naturally, my vote went to Miro Weinberger. In his sharp and properly fitting navy suit, blue Oxford shirt, red tie and big boy dress shoes, Miro was the snazziest. Clearly, the electorate didn’t see things my way. The round went to
Asian fusion restaurant candidate Tim Ashe.
After an interminable wait (how long does it take to count a thousand sheets of paper?), it was time for the next round. Because comedian cum legislator Jason Lorber dropped out after a dismal showing in the first round, we had only three candidates to consider. This go round, I figured I would cast my ballot based on who was most patriotic. And to determine that, I looked at which candidate was wearing the biggest tiny American flag lapel pin. Turns out, none of these jokers loves America. No one was sporting a flag pin. I might as well be voting for Kalashnikoff-wielding terrorists.
Since Miro was the only candidate wearing some approximation of red, white and blue, my vote went to him again. Tim Ashe was wearing a Desert Storm suit and combat boots and that’s pretty patriotic, but these colors don’t run, so I had to go with Old Glory. Incidentally, Bram Kranichfeld was also in the running, but he has a beard and it’s against my beliefs to vote for a man with facial hair.
When the third round came, it was down to Miro and Tim. Bram got the boot because his name reminded voters of vampires. The waiting in between rounds was insufferable. I did a lot of gas-bagging and perambulating and eating food. To pass the time, I read the New York Times out loud to my friend who is lazy and doesn’t like to use her eyes. The crowd had thinned considerably by then. Surprisingly, a lot of people didn’t have four hours to sit around and participate in democracy. They had better things to do like work and take their kids to piano and soccer and pianosoccer, which is a new sport that is incredibly violent.
For the final vote, I figured I would just go with who I thought had more impressive eyebrows. This, of course, would be Miro. Goddamn, those things are like woolly bear caterpillars! Many of the friends sitting around me voted for Tim. Things got tense. We stopped talking. I smashed one of their iPads. They poisoned my juice box.
After an epic wait, the dude running the whole mess of a caucus (someone needs to take consult a middle school principal or two on how to deal with crowds) announced that, after all that arm-twisting and back room wheeling and dealing and bribing with delicious baked goods, we had come to an impasse. Neither Miro nor Tim got a majority. Tim ended up with 541 and Miro got 540. It was a totally unsatisfying ending to the day.
Before the angry mob raided the stage and took the election official hostage, he and the candidates and their seconds headed offstage to figure this shit out. After some time, they decided they would go ahead and recount the votes, which meant another ass-numbing wait. When the recount came in, the result was no better — Tim received 540 votes and Miro received 540 votes and five ballots were spoiled by some jerks who voted for people who weren’t eligible, like me.
So after an entire afternoon spent waiting and sitting and wandering and eating and reading aloud and judging other people and doing cartwheels, the day came screeching to a most displeasing end. We were informed that the matter wouldn’t be settled tonight, perhaps because many of the voters left after the third round after being told (erroneously) that they could leave. Apparently, we’re going to have a final vote sometime in the next month. But how about this time, we don’t make it like we’re in Afghanistan with paper ballots and lines that last for days and inky fingers? How about we do it like every other election in this godforsaken land — with machines and private booths and hanging chads?
While it was fun to socialize and do a little campaigning and feel like I was truly part of the democratic process, maybe the Democratic committee could consider holding a normal, day-long vote (with instant runoff) so that people who work or have kids or simply don’t have the stamina to sit in a sweaty auditorium for four-plus hours can still participate. Also, if it was a regular vote, maybe we might get people who weren’t just middle class white folks. Because it kind of looked like the inside of a ski lodge at Memorial last night. Just a thought.