For the past few weeks I, like all reasonable Americans, have been stocking up on dry goods and heavy weaponry. When things turn bad, my retreat to an undisclosed wilderness location will be swift and efficient. But in the meantime, I voted.
Today, I did my duty to the republic the old-fashioned way. In 2020, that’s a bit of an anomaly (I’m the only MilMag staff member to not vote absentee/early), and so I’ve been asked to write words about it.
“No,” I said. “I’m not a pet monkey, who dances at the jingle of a bell for the amusement of men. I write only when the muse alights upon my shoulder and whispers inspiration into my ear.”
“I’ll give you a cookie.”
Know an individual or group committed to bridging divides in our community? Nominate them for a Unity Award by Oct. 31.
“Oh, hell yeah. I’ll write that now.”
And so here, I recount my voting experience. First off, I’ve decided against political opinionating of any sort for two primary reasons.
- I’m not very smart.
- My manifesto is set to be published by Archie-P Publications early next year, and I don’t want to spoil it. (Working title: I’m Sad and I Don’t Know Why: I Bet It’s Society’s Fault).
So here’s how voting in person went. First off, I’d say the mood today is gloomy and tense. Maybe I’m just being fatalistic and reading into it, but no one seemed in remotely a good mood. I think it’s safe to guess that COVID-19 has people scared and this election has people scared and also angry, and everyone at my polling place just wanted to get in and get out as fast as they could with as little interaction as possible.
Voting at 10 in the morning, there were no long lines, but the polling place was more crowded than I’d ever seen. All of the voting stations were in use, and the room was filling quickly. Masking was universal, and every check-in station had plastic partitions.
The news people were already there and rolling. I walked past three cameras just to get inside. They were stopping people and asking them to talk about their votes. I was hoping they’d stop me, so I could spread the truth about the mongoose uprising, but they didn’t, and so I slipped right past.
Inside, there was another camera pointed at the door, capturing B-roll of people walking in. I was more than aware of this, but having never seen a news van anywhere near my local polling place, this sight really underscored the importance of Wisconsin in this election.
A police officer stood next to the door, directing traffic. When I first walked in, I felt the impulse I feel whenever I see a cop, which is to blurt out, “I swear, Officer, I have no idea what happened to that hitchhiker.” But I held it in this time and smiled like a polite young man with nothing in his trunk and went to check in.
I handed over my ID, and the woman behind the desk checked it and spoke to the election inspector next to her.
“Anchor Parquette,” she said, sliding him my ID and pointing to my name in the ledger.
“Please sign here,” he said, handing it over.
I took a pen from one of the many piles of pens (which you had to throw into a bin for cleaning once you were done) and then signed my name in the book and took my ID back. They handed over my ballot, and I thanked them.
Wait. Hold on.
Did she just call me Anchor?
Like the nautical equipment?
Yeah, she did. She called me Anchor. What the hell? I know my name is unusual, but it’s not hard to pronounce. Haven’t you ever seen Lord of the Rings? It’s the dudes with the bows and arrows.
I’ve been called Arthur plenty of times – at least that makes sense, but this…
Ok, I thought. Screw it. While I was standing around, I noticed a number of elderly people wandering very closely to me and realized that I should really get out of here quickly for their sake. I found an open voting station after a moment and hunched over my ballot.
I actually wasn’t planning to vote at all but then I saw, like, Lady Gaga and Tobey McGuire cut a PSA about how I should, and that’s what convinced me. No, actually, it was the big “Go Vote” thing on Facebook. Yeah, I was totally anti-vote until I saw that Facebook thought it was cool. Oh, wait no, it wasn’t that – it was a girl I knew in high school posting an Instagram story with a “VOTE” filter on it. That was what really won me over.
I’m sorry. That sarcasm level was borderline violent. I try not to sink that deep into it. After the 5,000th text message I got from some random number about how I had to vote, I started to lose it a little. Forgive me.
I filled out my ballot forthwith, obsessively ensuring that the ovals were completely and neatly filled, before sliding the paper into the voting machine.
As I left, I picked up one of the great, untarnished institutions of American Government – the “I Voted” sticker. I tucked it safely into my pocket and walked out the side door of the building (as per the COVID safety guidelines). Out in the sunshine, I took of my mask before getting my car and took a deep breath.
It’s going to be a long week.