That's right: it's election time. Local elections, to be precise. Officially, I still live it my parents' house; it's easier to get some mail there and better than having to update my driver's license and voting precinct every year when I switch apartments at school. I figure rights and responsibilities are two sides of the same coin, and thus not only do I have a right to vote but also a responsibility to vote (and to become informed about my choices). Just as importantly, I figure that I forfeit my right to complain about any elected official in my district in whose election I didn't vote. Now, for local elections there's only so much at stake. If someone on the Soil and Water Board is in favor of embryonic stem cell research it's not exactly a deal-breaker for me. Besides, being Fairfax County, my state senator, delegate, county sheriff, and district representative to the school board were all Democrats running unopposed. The Soil and Water Board had three incumbents (two Democrats and one Republican) running unopposed with one Green challenger.
After doing a quick check of each candidate's website or blurb in the newspapers, I came up with my list. At least one Republican, Democrat, and Independent (in a race where party could be listed) candidate received my vote. I generally write in a candidate when someone runs unopposed and continued that trend today. As for the rest, these were my criteria:
-One-party rule is a bad thing; in Fairfax County this means that Republicans get a +1 in my consideration
-If they're a challenged incumbent and seem to have been doing an okay (no positions to which I strongly object) job, they get my vote. The other side of this is that I'll risk a new guy if the incumbent is incompetent or seems to be in it for his own gain (like a certain incumbent who seems to be using his legitimate authority to reclassify objectionable things as nonobjectionable and look better to those who don't look too closely)
-Competency is good; being a busybody is bad
-Being a veteran gives you bonus points in my consideration, as does having a family and being a member of a church
So with all that in mind I went in to vote absentee-in-person at one of the satellite government centers. The hours for doing this are all day at the main government center and at the satellite centers on Saturday, but only 3:30-7:30 on weekdays. I couldn't find the polling station and had the following conversation with the receptionist:
Me: "Um, hi. I was wondering where I could go vote absentee-in-person."
Receptionist: "You can do it here, but not until 3:30."
Me: "Wait, what?"
Receptionist: "The station doesn't open until 3:30 during the week."
Me: "Isn't today Saturday?"
Receptionist: [blinks] "You're joking."
Me: "Oh. That's right; I'm usually only here on the weekends."
Now, in my defense, I had originally been planning to be back on Saturday, not Wednesday. Since my 5PM class yesterday had been cancelled it felt like a weekend. In any case, I drove to the main government center in Fairfax and voted there. They gave me a sticker.
I encourage you to take an hour and do a quick once-over of the candidates for any local races you have coming up. Tuesday is election day; you should have the day off. A lot of these races only garner a few thousand votes (if that), and every election you hear of some race that got won by a handful of votes (sometimes even a single vote).
[As for the song, "gabber robots" seems like a decent description of politicians to me (especially Al Gore and Mitt Romney). Okay, that parenthetical remark was kind of a cheap shot. To make up for it, I present an internet fad that occurred during my Freshman year of college: All Your Base Are Belong To Us. The video is the first part of a horribly mistranslated Japanese video game, followed by a lot of photoshopping. The music is called "Invasion of the Gabber Robots" and is actually a pretty good, if sad, song if you like that style. Why sad? It's sad because the good guys lose. This takes some knowledge of both video games and some creativity, but bear with me. The driving pulse is the relentless, monolithic enemy. The high-pitched melodic line is the "good guys." Everything else is "mood" and tells the story. Listening to the melodic line, at around 2:10 you have the good guys doing well. They're not doing anything seriously harmful, but are doing the equivalent of dispatching the ineffective minions of the enemy. At about 2:33, they start doing real damage and you begin to think that they've got a chance. At 2:46, however, it becomes apparent that their efforts are futile; they're doomed no matter what. At 3:10 the good guys are continuing the fight, even though they know there's no hope of victory. After their theme dies out, there's a pause...and now you know that whatever the good guys were defending is now facing the enemy themselves.
Okay, so maybe it's just a song. Still, I like the story. Insert Battlestar Galactica references if you'd like.]