Thursday, I joined the nearly 50 percent of Lee Countians who voted early. Only sadly, I feel my effort was a wasted one.
And I blame it on all the advertising.
Admit it. You’re sick of the ads. My mornings now consist of 15-minute increments of Good Morning America, followed by a plethora of 30-second soundbites of Elizabeth Dole telling us how “Godless” Kay Hagan is, Kay Hagan telling us how old and ineffective Elizabeth Dole is, Barack Obama telling us how much of a Bush-lover John McCain is, and John McCain telling us how unprepared and dangerous Barack Obama is.
It’s enough to make you search for the mute button. In fact, I think I voted early Thursday just so I could yell back at the television — “Stop it! I already voted!” — everytime the commercials came on this weekend.
Bring back the erectile dysfunction commercials, I say. At least they come with catchy songs.
Viva Viagra, anyone?
I do understand why the commercials are there though, and why they’re one after another after another after another. It’s to make it stick in our heads.
I voted early Thursday because Election Day itself is an extremely busy day for a newspaper guy. There’s so much we have to worry about on that day (including what food we’re ordering to take us deep into the night), that it was just best to get my civic duty out of the way. I thought I’d be avoiding lines, but I actually had to wait a short time at the Board of Elections office in downtown Sanford. It was kind of nice seeing all those people voting … made me feel kind of good about my country.
That good feeling continued when I grabbed my ballot and headed toward the flimsy voting tables. I grabbed my pen … and away I went.
But as I looked down the list of familiar names (some of them not so familiar … who the heck is Robert Barr?) … the commercials started swirling in my head.
President: I was undecided on this vote all the way up until I decided to fill in the circle. Honest. Looking at Barack Obama and John McCain, I started to think of the shiny-headed Joe the Plumber, the grey-headed Joe the Biden and Sarah Palin. Will Barack really spread the wealth, as my TV has told me? Will McCain mean eight more years of the same-old, same-old? Is lipstick really all that separates Palin and a pit bull? Will an Obama win mean an immediate attack on the U.S.?
I blame/credit TV for putting these thoughts in my head. So Thursday, five minutes went by before I even made a mark on my ballot. Once that mark was finally made (and the guy next to me had started and left already), it was on to …
North Carolina Governor: I wondered why my ballot didn’t have Bev Perdue’s real middle name, “Status Quo.” Again, TV told me that. But a vote for McCrory means more illegal immigration and less pay for policeman. Right? Again … I was confused. So I skipped this one and decided to come back to it later.
U.S. Senate: Kay Hagan is Godless, and that’s not good. But Elizabeth Dole has trouble finding Raleigh on a map, and I suppose that’s not good, either. Right? RIGHT?
Lieutenant governor: “Wasteful” Walter Dalton or Robert Pittenger. Wait, why doesn’t Robert have a nickname? Hmmm, skipped it.
Attorney General: Not sure. Skipped it.
U.S. Congress: I voted for Etheridge, thanks to The Herald’s endorsement and the fact that I didn’t see any TV ads on this one.
By the time I finally got to the Lee County Board of Commissioners, 30 minutes had passed. I thought since the county elections never made the airwaves, this would be easy.
Then the signs started digging into my brain. Signs for Hincks and against Hincks. Mobile signs, e-mailed signs, stickers in public restrooms.
I stepped away from my booth and took a deep breath. Then I started voting.
And as a journalist, I thought I was pretty informed heading into my vote. Then I saw a ton of non-partisan races with very few recognizable names. I didn’t even have a party to base my opinion on.
So out came the coin … which made the picks quick and easy.
So easy, in fact, that I went back to governor and senator and the others and started flipping the coin again.
An hour and 15 minutes later, I was done with my sweat-stained ballot … proud that I’d contributed to the election process, even if the nickel in my pocket was the one making most of the decisions.
I suppose the moral of the story is this — avoid TV and learn who these candidates are if you haven’t voted yet and are waiting for Tuesday. It will save you a ton of time and a few aspirin if you do so.
Happy Election Day everybody.
Editor’s Note: In case anybody couldn’t tell, the above was (mostly) fiction. My votes were quick and informed … except those darn non-partisan races. That really was a guessing game.