Vote from Home! The envelope said. It was my application for an absentee ballot. Absentee? I'm right here! Two blocks from the polling place.
When I read the letter, I was surprised how out-of-touch the government is. If I understand this correctly, I fill out the form, and then I have to mail it. Really? In this GrubHub/Postmates/Amazon world, they can't send someone to get it? Maybe one of those Boston Dynamic robot dogs you see on the internet, trotting through the neighborhood with pouches full of ballots?
Sorry, no. The first time I voted it was in a church basement in Dinkytown. The machine was old and clanky, and looked like something they used in 1956 to calculate nuclear missile trajectories. You stepped inside, pulled the curtains around you, made your selections and pulled a big metal lever: ca-clunk, like flushing a brick.
Someone in the church upstairs was practicing on the organ, big slabs of Bach chords festooned with treble filigrees, and as I pulled that lever I thought: "This is a glorious privilege. Also, I wish I knew more about those judge candidates."
Now the voting booth is like a plastic TV dinner tray. But I still prefer it to voting by mail.
The last time I voted it was under Covidian Restrictions. You stripped behind a curtain, burned your clothes, put on a paper poncho, then went to a table to give them your name. Since you were 6 feet from the table, and masked, it was hard to hear, so you wrote your name on a whiteboard, put it on the ground, and kicked it to the table. A man in a hazmat suit dunked it in bleach and gave you your registration slip with a pair of tongs.
At the next table you fashioned the slip into a paper airplane and tossed it at the clerk, who caught it with oven mitts. He stuck a ballot on a hook and used a fishing rod to cast it toward you, then used a blowdart to shoot a pen in your direction. I caught mine the third time, one-handed. Pretty dang proud, if I say so myself.
The voting booth had those misting things you see in the fancy produce section, except it was spraying Lysol, so you didn't linger. A few quick strokes of the pen, turn over the ballot, "Oh heck it's all judges, why didn't I study for this?"
Then I slid the ballot into the counting machine while the poll worker packed the pen into a ceramic cask that will be buried with nuclear waste at Yucca Flats.
There weren't any "I VOTED" stickers, because that might spread disease, but they did offer to laser-engrave the phrase on my forearm. "Heals in about a week," the man said. "Doesn't leave much of a scar, but it will show up faintly if you ever get angry and red in the face."
It was tempting, but I passed. That was it! Easy and/or peasy, and perfectly safe.
Even if your polling place doesn't have the same restrictions, it can't be more dangerous than a trip to the grocery store. Do you see anyone disinfecting the door handles of the milk cooler every time someone yanks it open for some 2%? You do not.
Sure, I could have the food delivered, but I'm hoping they'll start handing out "I SHOPPED" stickers.