Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I have a voice

I went out and voted just after noon today. Took a small camcorder with me, to document any potential shenanigans, but I can't say I saw anything that stood out as unusual or unlawful. Additionally, I only had to wait about ten minutes, probably because I am a white person in a white precinct (or district or whatever).

Something interesting did happen, though. After an election official led me to the new touchscreen voting machine and set it up for me to vote, she began the process for me, skipping past a page I assume was instructions on how to do everything correctly. I immediately told her I would like to see the page because it was meant for my eyes and because I prefer to read instructions before beginning important tasks that depend on such instructions, but apparently it was impossible to return to the page. After she tried for about 20 seconds, I told her not to worry about it.

Although this probably was not a very significant issue, I wish I'd had the camera rolling at that moment because, in reality, something like that could cause major problems. I mean, there are surely a lot of voters who need to see that page. It's there for a reason, and I know she should not have done what she did. I know that if she was properly trained, she was not trained to skip that page without my consent. The scary thing is that I have no reason to believe she was properly trained. But if she was, we have some real problems aside from voter irregularities, voter suppression, rigged machines, and all the other real (and documented) threats to the integrity of our elections that most people still don't seem to know about.

I started touching the names of my preferred candidates when it occurred to me that I should videotape everything I do. I then took the camera out of my jacket pocket and turned it on before continuing with the remainder of my votes. I did this because I'd heard enough stories about people touching one candidate's name and subsequently watching their vote jump to the opponent's name. Having a rational distrust of our government and our elections, I felt the need to keep a record of anything strange that may have happened with my vote.

As far as I know, nothing strange happened to my votes. And in case you're wondering, here's how I voted: I voted for the Democrat in every race; I voted Yes to raise Ohio's minimum wage; I voted Yes on the Smoke Less Ohio issue; I voted No on the Smoke Free issue; and I voted No for the Southwestern City Schools' income tax proposal.

Normally I believe it is irresponsible and stupid when people vote "across the page" for either party, but we're living in strange days right now. I'm no fan of Democrats, OK. In fact, I'm no fan of any politician I know of. But the Republicans are just blatantly fucking corrupt, and we need to fire as many of those assholes as we can today because they are tearing apart the United States of America in every way possible. They've proven it over and over, and it's time for them to face the consequences. Enough said.

So while I was voting, one of the election officials asked me if I wouldn't mind stepping aside to talk to her when I was finished voting (obviously because I was taping everything I did). I had no problem with that. So when I was done, she asked me what the camera was for. I said something to the effect of, "I've heard plenty of stories about how people's votes have changed right in front of their eyes on these touchscreen machines, and I brought the camera as a sort of insurance. I don't trust these machines, and if it had happened to me, I would have evidence." She then asked me if I was associated with any group or anything. I said, "I'm an American citizen. This is all me; it has nothing to do with anyone else. I'm just a regular guy."

Moments after I left the polling place, it occurred to me that I should have taped my short conversation with her. I had the camera in my hand as I participated in a potentially important and meaningful exchange of information, but I chose to leave the power off. And I learned something from it, just like I learned something from not taping the earlier incident.

By voting today, I learned some valuable lessons about making a documentary. Lessons I really needed to learn. Lessons that will help me avoid making the same mistakes when I hit the road to make Aimless. Lessons that will someday help me recognize good stuff in time to capture it on tape. It also showed me how uncomfortable I may become at times when I finally do begin making Aimless, and it should prepare me to handle these situations better in the future.

I have a lot to learn. I know that much. I never tried to pretend I'm an expert or anything like that. But little things like going out to vote can be valuable learning tools; a lot more valuable than school. This is real-world school, and I can't wait to start using my education to create Aimless.

Let the healing begin

It's been three days since my best little buddy Pinky went away forever, and it's beginning to hurt a little less. Not that it will ever stop hurting, but I have to accept the reality that he has moved out of my physical life and now resides in my heart and my memory.

We buried Pinky Sunday afternoon in a special place. I put a few things in his box that belong with him, including a bottle of cat treats, his feeding dish, and a little note. I sure do miss him.

There is so much I want to say about Pinky, and I may do it soon enough (mostly for myself), but it's not very easy to do right now.

I love you, Pinky.