Today between placing a lockbox on a property and picking my daughter up from school, I had about 75 minutes to kill and no productive way to use that time, until I realized I was driving past the Randalls at Brodie and Slaughter Ln. in Southwest Austin. This, I had heard, is the early voting location for my precinct, and I needed more oatmeal, so I pulled in to Randalls.
Overall, this was a good, cheerful day for me. Standing in the voter line threw a wet blanket on it though. 30 minutes of sharing space with grim faced, unsociable people was a real downer. This line would not be mistaken for a festive line of people waiting to be let in to a ZZ-Top concert, or the gleeful bunch of iPhone “early adopters” you may have seen on the news last summer.
Nope, these are arms folded, blank stare, don’t-talk-to-me-I’m-brooding, line standers. I guess pleasant, cordial chit chat is off the table when engaged in the solemness of one’s civic duty. Had I been blindfolded and led to this line, I might have guessed I was standing amongst people waiting to pick caskets for their dead puppies. I considered making eye contact with someone, maybe throwing one of those wry “what’s up?” smiles toward someone, but I dared not, as the pall of depressed hanging faces thus deterred me.
I’ve never voted early, before now. I’ve always waited until actual voting day. Perhaps my line at Randalls was unrepresentative of most. After all, 3:15PM is nap time and we all feel a bit sluggish about then, I’m sure. But I feel like I missed out on the buzz and vibe one experiences when standing in the much longer and more energetic voting lines I’ve encountered in the past on voting day. There was no frenzy, no gaggle of sign holders some distance from the driveway entrance. No feeling of, “today’s the big day”. Instead, the feeling was more like the soft thud of your rocky road triple scoop landing on your shoe.
Also, in my prudent and efficient use of dead time, I failed to consider that in the past, my vote coincided with the end of the constant blather and rhetoric we all endure at this time every 4 years. All the lying and misinformation, from all sides. It’s almost as if my previous acts of voting also represented a loud and clear “now, Shut UP!” to all the pundits, news reporters, politicians and radio talk show hosts. I didn’t realize that voting early would deprive me of the symbolic finality that a voting-day vote provides. Now, not only have I squandered the heretofore unappreciated voting day formality, I have to listen to all of the election noise for 8 days beyond my vote.
Can I get a do over?
So, my message is, don’t vote early, or if you do, take some happy friends along so you might better endure the torture of standing amongst the emotionless, stoic androids otherwise known as Austin early voters.