The first election I "voted" in was 1968, when I proved to my mother that clearly nature was winning over nurture: my choice was the guy whose name was nearly a palindrome and had that cool x in it. Folks, I was in kindergarden. And in Ohio. Do I need to say more? The incredibly sophisticated voting method our teacher used was to have us raise our hands while she pointed to (and probably said) the name.
By 1972 we'd moved to SmallTown NY, and we voted in machines like this:
That was the machine I voted with in 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008. I HAD VOTED.
Then New York State changed to an electronically scanned ballot, where you stand in a so-called "privacy booth" (no real privacy, no curtain), fill in the bubble (thank all the gods for Iowa Tests and SSATs and PSATs and SATs and all those other standardized tests - I can fill in bubbles with the best of them) and then put the ballot into a scanning machine. No lever. No privacy. No feeling that you've voted. As I said to the lovely woman sitting next to the machine, I felt like I'd just bought a bunch of groceries.
Speaking of - look at these two photos:
Those are of two weeks worth of grocery flyers and political flyers received in the mail. Guess which pile is larger.
My friend RGP suggested a way to cut through all the ads, flyers and phone calls: keep a tally. Phone calls, simple flyers and issue ads are one point. Phone calls at dinner time, four-color flyers and negative ads are five points. On election days, add them up and vote for the person you've heard from least.
The only thing I'll reveal about my voting this time is that yes, I voted Republican. Now, before you Democrats and Independents and Greens scream "We're Doooooooomed", let me explain. On my ballot were three positions, County Coroner, County Sheriff and one other that I forget (Dogcatcher? something like that) and the only names on the ballot were in the Republican/Conservative lines. For whatever reason, they couldn't (or wouldn't) get bipartisan support for their candidacy and the other parties didn't have candidates of their own. For me, the doomed part isn't that I had to either vote Republican or not vote at all for these positions, it's the suspicion if the only qualified person is from the other party, the party sans said qualified person can't bring themselves to support him (or her, but in all three cases, him). Or the party won't allow this person to seek bipartisan support. If that really is the case, as a nation, we're doomed.