There are many excuses not to vote. These are mine.
The City of Los Angeles saw absurdly low voter turnout on Tuesday — they say it was somewhere in the neighborhood of 16%-to-20% of those registered. It’s the same sad song we always hear, but about which I’m finally free to ask: If the Mayans were wrong with their obnoxious predictions, how are we to trust iffy polls that tell us we’re doomed if we don’t vote? Aren’t we all still walking around, microwaving the earth the Mayans left us?
In addition to that (perfectly reasonable) rationalization, here are some of the excuses that went through my head on voting day:
- You have to be some kind of ballot language specialist to understand the propositions, which are written so that only people living in Opposite World will get what voting ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ means. That’s just cruel.
- I don’t know what a city controller does.
- My friends don’t want to go.
- When asked, “Shall the City of Los Angeles enact a one-half cent transactions and use (generally referred to as sales) tax, with required independent audits, public review of expenditures, and all funds used locally,” I need to pull out my trusty 新選民資訊 guide in order to answer. I’ll be right back never.
- Law and Order already started. They’re just going to raise taxes anyway.
- Polling places remind me of things I don’t want to touch, like decomposing, school district wood and volunteers.
- I already took my shoes off; you know the rule.
- Standing in line for a ballot’s like being at the DMV, ‘cept the people behind the counter are smarter than you are, and they know you last read a book when Bush was still president.
- Never mind the sticker, shouldn’t we be issued some sort of code when we vote, so when we encounter grocery store petition weirdos we can pronounce it and walk off guilt free, like one of the good people? Do that and I’ll vote in every election.
- I can’t break away from what I’m doing just ’cause it’s time to vote. Voting needs to be rolled into my other errands, so I can manufacture the illusion of profit and check something off my to-do list.
- There was an election this week, and there’s another one in two months. See what I’m saying? This is impossible.
- All I’ve heard is that both frontrunners have funded Muslim kitten burning operations and that they’d sell their souls to the devil if they knew the devil could be litigated against. It’ll take a candidate who deserves my vote for me to just all of a sudden –snap!– log out of Call of Duty.
And yet…I did log out, put my shoes back on, and turn away from the Law and Order rerun. I found out what a city controller does. I took a very nice evening stroll with a good friend up to the neighborhood elementary school, where we found more volunteers than voters. “Been like this all day,” one told us. But we figured, at least we’re not talkers. See, we love Los Angeles, warts ‘n all. Not the champagne and spray-tan bullshit, I mean the people and places.
L.A. natives often hear how much we have in common with hard-bitten New Yorkers and I dig that. I relate to the cynicism, but also to the abundant civic pride. And really, how different is this from folks in the heartland who love their hometowns too? I fight my excuses because voting means it’s time for me give something to my city, ’cause my city is better than the people running it.