Wednesday, May 7, 2008
At the Polls
I committed voter fraud. The fraud was delicate, small and shivery like the frond of a fern, but it was, nevertheless, fraud. Here's what happened: I moved. Then I got a job. I didn't quite get around to changing my registration to reflect my new county of residence. The deadline passed. Clinging like a limpet to my civic duty, I hied myself down to my old county of residence and voted a week early at City Hall.
Interestingly, committing voter fraud diminished not an iota my Election Day enthusiasm. I rose at the crack of dawn! I ate breakfast with my ear glued to the radio! I did some excited election day bouncing! I even fake-voted, accompanying my spouse to the polling place and then hovering outside, grinning insanely at my grumpy, sleepy fellow citizens as they exited the polls. Finally I hit the coffee shop, and all before 8:00 AM! Yay!
Then I went to work, came home, went about my business. The returns trickled in and sometime around around 1:00 AM, my state was called. For the other guy. Immediately, the familiar thought snuck out from its hidey-hole and whacked me over the head: Dang. My vote didn't matter.
It's a visceral feeling, low and raw and deep and...false. Mathematically speaking, one equals one equals one. I am Voter A. Let's take another voter, Voter B (maybe that woman with the gauze wedged up her nose). I support one candidate; she supports another. For the sake of argument we'll call them "Obama" and "Hillary." Just because Voter B's candidate carried my state doesn't make her individual vote worth 1.2, or 1.4, or any value over and above the value of my vote. Our votes are exactly equal in terms of their numerical contribution (how much they "matter") to the outcome of the election.
So given that voter A = voter B, and given that "mattering" is a dichotomous variable, the proposition "Voter A didn't matter" implies that Voter B didn't matter either. Only I'm not willing to accept that because it's weird and depressing, so that means Voter A's vote and Voter B's vote BOTH mattered and our proposition gets junked.
My vote mattered.
Too bad it took me two paragraphs of incoherent raving to prove it to myself.