Boomeresque:Definition
1. Adj.: Describing a person born between 1 Jan. 1946 and 31 Dec. 1964
2. Adj.: Description of a person, place or thing possessing Baby Boomer je ne sais quoi
3. See also, Boomer, Esq.: A Baby Boomer who is also a licensed attorney (See, e.g., About).

Election Day in the USA — What Could Go Wrong?

by Suzanne Fluhr on November 5, 2012 · 12 comments

Polling Place Attorney Badge

Democratic Party Donkey

Democratic Party Donkey

Republican Party Elephant

Republican Party Elephant

For Boomeresque readers from across The Pond—and across The Other Pond (I’m talking about Aussies, Kiwis and people living in Asia and on the Indian sub-continent), and our fellow North Americans and fellow other denizens of the Western Hemisphere — you may have heard we’re having an election for President of the United States tomorrow.

From my world travels, I know that some of you know more about American politics and this election than some Americans. I am, therefore, embarrassed to admit that I don’t usually know when your country is having an election unless I happen to be visiting there when it is happening. I do know that in many of your countries, unlike in the US of A, there is a relatively small window of opportunity to actually be in your country during a pre-election period because you sensibly limit the amount of time that can be spent campaigning and the amount of money that can be spent by the candidates. How do I know this? I’m a lawyer. I looked it up.

This election season has been particularly noisome. First we had the bitter Republican primary elections to pick that party’s presidential candidate. If you happened to tune into CNN International or BBC World, you might have been subjected to the hateful rhetoric that the primary candidates spewed at each other as they vied to be considered the most absolutely, truly, “severely” conservative. Or perhaps you tuned in the day the audience at one Republican candidates’ debate cheered the suggestion by an audience member that a person who showed up at a hospital emergency room without the ability to pay should be left to die. Mr. Romney’s dissing of British preparedness for the London Olympics (while he actually was in London for said Olympics) also probably did not do a lot to engender warm, fuzzy feelings towards your American cousins. In any case, with all this behavior on view, I would certainly understand if you felt moved to get up out of your chair to remove that visit to the United States from your bucket list.

After it was clear that Mitt Romney was the last man standing in the Republican primaries and would become the party candidate for president, the war of words between the Obama camp (the Democratic party) and the Romney camp escalated to a fever pitch and has pretty much remained there. For months, I have received no fewer than six emails a day, promising dire consequences for me and my country if I did not immediately donate to a particular campaign. On quite a few occasions, I obliged. (Since I pay the credit card bill, my non-political-junkie spouse is only aware of these contributions in a non-specific sort of way. Hi, Sweetie. :-))

Red State/Blue State Divisions - 2008 Uhited States Presidential Election

Red State/Blue State Divisions - 2008 Uhited States Presidential Election

You may have heard that we have red states and blue states. I am assuming you realized that this has nothing to do with the actual color of each state.  Blue states are those that tend to vote for Democrats (kind of liberal) and the red states trend Republican. (As a Baby Boomer, I grew up during the Cold War. Am I the only person who finds it a little strange that the most conservative states are “red”?)  As long as we’re doing the color thing, some states seem to be going purple. That is, neither the Democrats nor the Republicans can reliably predict electoral victory. My home state of Pennsylvania (which political pundits have described as Philadelphia on the east side, Pittsburgh on the west side, and Alabama  in between) is sort of a microcosm of what the red state/blue state map of the entire country looks like. (Alabama is in the Deep South Bible Belt and along with the other southern states has been a reliably red state while the west coast and the northeast can usually be counted on to be blue, at least at the presidential level.)

Long Lines at Florida Early Voting Sites

Long Lines at Florida Early Voting Sites

We have been bombarded with political ads (most of them negatively smearing the other guy or gal) in every type of possible media—including social media. (Check out Twitter hashtag #FiredBigBird.) We are not just voting for president.  We are also voting  for so-called “down ballot” candidates for the federal senate and house of representatives, for state legislators, for attorneys general, for treasurers, for sheriff, for dog catcher, ad nauseum. In some jurisdictions, we are voting on changes to local and state laws. In Florida, in addition to voting for candidates for various positions, electors are facing ballots with eleven proposed amendments to the Florida State Constitution. One of those has 640 words of small print. Needless to say, plowing through a ballot of that complexity takes some time. Florida has “early voting”, permitting people to vote on certain days prior to the official election day of Tuesday, November 6, 2012. Lines to vote outside Florida polling places, especially in predominantly Democratic urban areas, have been two to six hours long. Who decreased the amount of early voting hours this year? That would be the Republican governor. Ditto for Ohio —-only there it was the Republican Secretary of State who is in charge of elections.

Do not be shocked if you wake up on November 7th still not knowing who will be sworn in as President of the United States on January 21, 2013. This is because although I and my fellow Americans will actually vote for a presidential candidate, the winner of the election is not directly determined by the popular vote. Each state has a certain number of electoral college votes apportioned by the number of state residents. In all but two of the states, the candidate with the most votes in the state gets all the electoral college votes for the state. It is possible for there to be a tie in the electoral college even though the national popular vote is not tied. It is also possible for a candidate to win the popular vote and lose the electoral college.  (Ask Al Gore who was defeated by George W. Bush in 2000 by virtue of the electoral college even though he won the national popular vote. GWB had a little help there from the U.S. Supreme Court.)  We’re supposed to have learned this in school, but I suspect that even some American Boomeresquers are scratching their heads about how the electoral college works. Lest your eyes glaze over even more than they already have, I’ll link to this article about the electoral college in United States presidential elections for you to read at your leisure —- perhaps on your smart phone while you are waiting in line to vote!

In Pennsylvania, we’ve also had our own special version of a Republican attempt at voter suppression. I won’t expound on the details since this post is already well over the supposed word limit for the attention span of blog readers. (I choose to believe that most Boomeresque readers have taken their ADHD meds and can tolerate a post of this length).

"Comforter in Chief" - President Obama Consoling a New Jersey Hurricane Victim

"Comforter in Chief" - President Obama Consoling a New Jersey Hurricane Victim

Mother Nature has also done her part to suppress the vote. Hurricane Sandy has dislocated voters in affected areas of New Jersey and Pennsylvania and many communities are still without electrical power.

You may have noticed that I have assiduously not revealed for whom I will be voting tomorrow. (You can comment below with your guess ;-)) However, I will be volunteering at the polls tomorrow as an attorney poll watcher from 7:00 A.M. until they close at 8:00 P.M., or later, because anyone still in line at 8:00 P.M. can still vote. Officially, I am a member of a “Philadelphia Flying Squad“. I have to wear an identification tag, but as far as I can tell, super hero capes are optional — as is the ability to actually fly. If experience is any guide, I will be standing around freezing outside polling places or overheated inside, subsisting on junk food and coffee.  Everybody will behave themselves and I’ll be happily bored.

My Polling Place Attorney I.D. Badge

My Polling Place Attorney I.D. Badge

 

P.S. If you’re a registered voter in the United States, get out there and do your civic duty. They stand in lines to vote in Afghanistan too — and they have to worry about the Taliban!

Comment below. What’s your take on our elections in the United States? (Opinions foreign and domestic are welcome—along with guesses about for whom I voted.)

Be Sociable, Share!

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Madaline Fluhr November 6, 2012 at 5:58 am

I volunteered at the San Jose CA Obama campaign office today, making get out the vote calls to Ohio and Wisconsin. I knew if I did it at home, I’d be distracted. Plus it was nice to be there with other volunteers. I shall be returning to do some more of my civic duty tomorrow. I feel too antsy to do nothing! Of course, tomorrow I will not only make calls but will remember to put “Vote!!” on my ‘to do’ list. This is one imperative time to do a cognitive override on one’s habitual tendency to procrastinate!!

Reply

Suzanne Fluhr Just One Boomer November 6, 2012 at 6:54 am

Good girl. Did any of the people you called actually answer the phone and if they did, were they willing to engage?

Reply

Nancy November 6, 2012 at 5:14 pm

Great post! The picture you painted of the state of political affairs in this country was spot on. In Oregon we have vote by mail. There is really no excuse. They would probably deliver your ballot even if you forgot to put a stamp on it. Democracy is a messy process at it’s best. In this country we’ve taken that to the extreme and once again $$$$ seems to be the poison in the pot.

Reply

Suzanne Fluhr Just One Boomer (Suzanne) November 7, 2012 at 11:04 pm

Voting by mail—what a shockingly sane idea. As the President said last night in his acceptance speech, referencing the millions who stood in long, long lines to vote, “We have to fix that”.

Reply

bermtopia November 6, 2012 at 9:22 pm

$2.6 billion on campaign advertising that’s essentially white noise to most of us is — but so terribly, terribly toxic nonetheless — that’s what I find reprehensible. Limiting the time you can campaign – and the amount of money you can spend doing it? Now there’s a concept.

P.S. My polls indicate you are trending blue well within the margin for error;-)

Reply

Suzanne Fluhr Just One Boomer (Suzanne) November 7, 2012 at 11:09 pm

I was encouraged during the day by the extraordinary turnout at the polls I “watched” yesterday. Turnout was higher than in 2008! I was also heartened to see the diversity of age, race, religion, and ethnic background of the neighbors who greeted each other warmly, sometimes with hugs, as they waited in line to vote.

Reply

Roz Warren November 9, 2012 at 1:25 am

I know EXACTLY how you voted — and I voted for him too! I’m so thrilled that its OVER OVER OVER. And thanks for serving as an attorney poll watcher. I know that’s an exhausting yet necessary job.

Reply

Suzanne Fluhr Just One Boomer November 9, 2012 at 10:19 am

It actually turned out to be an uplifting experience. People were determined to vote!

Reply

Leslie In Portland, Oregon November 11, 2012 at 4:19 am

I second Roz’s thank you to you for serving as an attorney poll watcher. Did you encounter any situations in which you had to state or clarify the law for a voter or a polling place worker? Did eligible voters encounter any problems in getting to vote? How long did people have to wait to vote? The vote-by-mail system here in Oregon makes it logistically easy to vote, but I miss the neighborly camaraderie at the polling place.

Reply

Suzanne Fluhr Just One Boomer November 12, 2012 at 9:48 pm

Turn out in Philly was higher than it was even in 2008, partly as a result of anger at transparent GOP attempts to suppress Democratic voter turnout. One problem we encountered was that some people who had new voter registration cards and photo ID were not in the “official” binders of voters for their voting division and they were forced to cast provisional ballots rather than being allowed to case ballots on the machine. I am convinced that had provisional ballots been counted in Philadelphia, Obama’s margin would have been even higher. There were some lines, but nothing long enough to keep people from being able to vote. However, some of the polling places were poorly organized, so that we ended up helping them form orderly lines and making sure people were at the right polling place before they stood in line at the wrong place. I can understand how you miss the feeling of civic engagement that voting in person engenders, but the mechanical process has to be rational.

Reply

Mary-andering Creatively July 18, 2013 at 3:44 pm

This post just proves to me I need to follow your blog now. I love it and will be a regular reader. Maybe I should send my posts to you for preview. (Just kidding). I often open mouth and insert foot and piss folks off. I love to comment and I love to bring attention to issues. I even upset my own mother. Oh well, I am a person of conviction and love. I don’t want to upset anyone. I think I am like you. I want to make people think deeper.

Reply

Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr July 18, 2013 at 4:23 pm

Thanks for reading! I try not to annoy folks, especially my mother, but she refuses to use the internet (since receiving an email purporting to be from me stranded in London and asking for money), so I have some control over what she sees — although not all of her 80-something year old friends are as timid about entering cyberspace and they sometimes spill the beans 😉

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: