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I think I vote ... therefore I am confused

24 days until the start of the 2020 election season.

As we hold politicians accountable for the foul stench that has filled our airwaves since the 2018 election season began on Nov. 9, 2016, Southern Oregonians now have to hold our noses and do our part to end this plague that seems to smell worse with each succeeding year.

We have to vote.

Candidates have done nothing to solve this problem; their smokescreens having clouded our vision and kept children, pets and the elderly sheltered in their homes for weeks to avoid the political wildfires.

Thankfully for you I’m here to help.

After thoroughly skimming the 136 pages of the Voters’ Pamphlet that arrived in our mailboxes this week, I can assure you of two things:

1. Politicians often submit unfortunate photos; and

2. These booklets are going to be very difficult to recycle.

My favorite page in the Voters’ Pamphlet is Page 12, which — citing laws set by the Oregon Constitution, as well the state’s Vote By Mail Manual and the Help America Vote Act of 2002 — provides prospective ballot-fillers with a slew of helpful hints.

Such as:

“You have the right to get a new ballot if you make a mistake.”

Unfortunately, this isn’t retroactive. Imagine if we could go back in time after seeing our elected politicians in office, say “Yep, shouldn’t have done that” and recast our votes for another candidate.

Those are tears of joy right?

“You do not have to tell anyone how you voted.”

With holiday dinners just over the horizon, this is a particularly good piece of advice. Too much truth is let slip when passing the yams to the right.

orrrr to the left, depending on the slant of your table.

“You have the right to vote for the person you want.”

(Yes, it really says this.)

Now, I realize in these tribal times, voting for the person you want to win might seem like a quaint notion from a bygone era — since so many of us now blindly “root for the laundry” of a particular political party. But do the pamphlet writers actually believe the public is so brainwashed that we’ve forgotten we can exercise free will when marking our ballots?

Don’t answer that.

I’m more surprised they didn’t add a corollary to remind us that — in the land of “one person, one vote” — the person with the most votes doesn’t always win.

“You have the right to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on any issue on the ballot.”

Personally, I think this is a mistake. I realize that if voters are unsure which way to lean, they always can leave the question blank; but I’d be in favor of other ballot options — perhaps “Maybe,” “Not in a million years” or “Stop asking this question.”

The Voters’ Pamphlet includes handy-dandy explainers and position statements for such issues that might be confusing to you and me. These pro-con arguments ultimately prove us right — they’re so filled with spin that anyone attempting to read them will get dizzy.

Skipping ahead to Page 68, we find the section on how to fill out your ballot. Even though this is not a presidential election year see the “if you make a mistake” law above the illustrated example used in the pamphlet is for “PRESIDENT (VOTE FOR ONE).”

As if, somehow, we’d want two presidents?

Those are tears of joy right?

Anyway, the choices given in this example are “John Allen Doe,” “Thomas Jefferson” and “J.Q. Public.”

I did a little research here and, by a little, I mean I spent five minutes — that I could have used reading some pro-con supporting statements on various ballot issues — surfing the internet for the history of these names.

“John Doe,” apparently, could date as far back as the mid-1300s in England. When he acquired the middle name of “Allen” is harder to trace (I wasn’t going to spend more than five minutes on this), but it does show up in all sorts of federal documentation.

“J.Q. Public,” meanwhile, was definitively the creation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Vaughn Shoemaker and first appears in 1922 in the Chicago Daily News. The “J,” as we know, stands for “John”; there is no easily found origin for the middle initial of Q, or for what name it represents.

As for this “Thomas Jefferson” character, it appears to be created out of thin air by whoever drew the diagram.

Of course, the graphic presents a conundrum, as it depicts a left-handed voter completely filling in the oval next to Jefferson’s name by using what appears to be a pencil — whereas the instructions above it clearly state that only a pen (of blue or black ink) can be used on your ballot.

Me, I prefer black ink. Blue ink should be reserved for greeting cards, shopping lists and grade-school poetry. I suppose we could put it up to a vote: Which type of ink should be used on our ballots black, blue or invisible?

Now, it’s up to you. The only pieces of advice I can add to what’s in the Voters’ Pamphlet are to vote early (then pull the covers over your head until Election Day), and cast your ballot for the person you believe is least likely to make things worse. (We’ll keep trying that strategy until it works.)

Those are tears of joy right?

Remember, you have the legal right not to share your voting choices with Mail Tribune senior designer Robert Galvin at rgalvin@rosebudmedia.com.