Let us not call them voting booths. They're sawed-off tops of Porta-Potties grafted onto shaky TV dinner trays nowadays.

Voting lost its civic severity when they scrapped those huge metal coffins with switches and levers. You entered the booth, pulled the lever that swept forth the curtain -- something that made it feel like a combination of a medical exam and confession -- and then you confronted the Great Wall of Candidates and flipped the switches on your choices. Then you grasped a bar the size of a locomotive's brake lever, thought of all the elections this bar had seen, the number of voters who'd given it a hard yank just to show those clowns what he really thought, and SHA-SHANK! The curtain pulled back and you emerged a Responsible Citizen.

No more. Not for a long time. The lack of drama hasn't hurt participation rates, of course. Minnesota always prides itself on 99.996 percent of eligible voters showing up and filling the ovals with reasonable skill. Everyone votes, except for Melvin Torgerson of Motley, who says he doesn't like enclosed spaces or democracy, preferring general acclamation of a new king in an open field.

Otherwise, we all vote, because we get stickers that say I VOTED. These remind me of the balloons I used to get at the clinic for submitting to a booster shot without screaming as if a badger were gnawing off my shin. They said "FROM MY DOCTOR FOR BEING GOOD." You carried it around for a day and people patted you on the head.

Same thing with the I VOTED stickers. So you voted. For what? "Well, I wrote in Bashar Assad for governor, 'cause there's a man who knows how to deal with opposition!"

Here's an idea: flu shots in the voting booth. Also, oil changes. Drive up, leave your car, get your ballot, get jabbed in the arm while you have the usual argument with yourself about voting for judges you've never heard of and then when you're finished you've gotten it all done in one stop.

Also, exit polls will be a lot more accurate if people can specify which arm they prefer for the inoculation -- and pollsters ask whether they wanted to be jabbed by a sharp stick on the left or the right.

Now, get out there and vote! And if you do it at a polling place? Even better!

jlileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858