It’s that time again! Election Day is nigh, which might need to be mentioned to anyone outside America who was wondering why everything American and online intensified above and beyond our average 2020 levels of hysteria over the past few days. Whatever happens Tuesday and over the next several days as election staffers count ballots cast across a multitude of platforms and processes, America guarantees we won’t be dull to watch. Outsiders looking in may find themselves worn down by our emphatic, repetitive displays of all our worst concerns, fears, prejudices. and fiercest histrionics. If you stay tuned, we’ll have some cool toy commercials coming right up, we swear.
Meanwhile here in Indianapolis, I’m among the stubborn minority who refused to vote until Election Day itself. The Circle City only had a handful of early voting stations open over the past several days, causing bottlenecks of panicking constituents who were afraid of being stuck in hours-long lines and insisted they needed to get it over with NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW, not to mention a creeping fear of being firebombed by deluded yokel marionettes on the day of. Thus did thousands of early birds create hours-long lines and the prophecy was self-fulfilled.
As a veteran of dozens of large-scale entertainment conventions over the past 21 years, I’m not worried about long lines. I’m not wild about the notion of having polling stations overrun by hypervigilant grade-school dropouts who learned from old A-Team reruns that there’s some sort of ennobling merit in banana-republic misbehavior, which I’m sure will thrill Satan to no end, as if they haven’t already given him enough reality-TV kicks in Hell over the past few years. I’m not 100% agreeing with forecasts of mudflap miscreants being our worst Election Day problem, but I’m also not planning to vote during the typical rush hours, which should minimize my risk of exposure to COVID-19 and wild boors.
But first I need to finish figuring out who’s getting my votes this year. Some races are more obvious that others. And, breaking news: some parts of America do have other offices up for grabs besides the American throne. Here in our Indiana district, I’m looking at the following categories on my ballot:
U.S. President: In Transmetropolitan terms, the Beast versus the Smiler. Meanwhile for the Libertarians, a lady who has psych degrees but has been working in big tech for years, and was their VP nominee in 1996. Alas, Kanye West did not qualify for the Indiana ballot, nor did any of the other peanut-gallery parties. I have my choice of expression-driven voting or results-oriented voting. Do I want to make a statement, or throw my vote toward the least undesirable result? Would I rather vote for a guy I’ve disdained for years, or vote for a smug, hollow persona I’ve loathed for literally decades because I learned at an early age never to trust anyone who reminded me of J.R. Ewing, especially if they also reminded me of every fatcat villain of every live-action children’s Christmas film ever?
(The last four years have been one long TOLD YOU SO dance in my head, but no one listens to me in my head except the other voices, and even they can be stubborn fools sometimes.)
(If you crave explanation, I am not summarizing the last four years here. You lived through it. I lived through it. I don’t have a lot of gold stars to hand out. Anyone who’s paid attention to me on Twitter, I mean really paid attention, which is a tiny list, knows where I stand. Also, pause here for a sideswipe and a laugh at anyone who says “I’m not voting for the President, I’m voting for the Vice President”, or at anyone who votes single-issue and pretend other issues don’t exist and were all cured long ago. Congratulations! You’re complicit in the Presidential results anyway!)
Governor: Incumbent Republican Eric Holcomb wasn’t doing too badly at managing Indiana through the Age of Coronavirus until about a month ago when he prematurely upgraded us to Stage 5 despite a complete lack of medically encouraging indicators because he thought whiny voters who hate masks (and who’ve been threatening to vote Libertarian) might forgive him if he gave them permission to do their collective impressions of the “THIS IS FINE” Dog for the weeks leading up to the election and thereby sacrifice their elderly relatives and other loved ones to the capricious whims of Darwinian natural selection, in exchange for voting for him. Democratic candidate Dr. Woody Myers ran a campaign funded largely by waiting-room vending machine quarters, and didn’t air his first TV ad till literally this past weekend. As for the third candidate, who in my head I call Jokey Smurf, says he has goals to DEFUND ALL THE THINGS but won’t start making any actual plans for how to weave this sorcery until and unless he’s elected. This is on record — a sincere paraphrase from a recent interview, which did not impress IndyStar columnist James Briggs.
Indiana Attorney General: Incumbent Republican Todd Rokita versus Democrat Jonathan Weinzapfel, a former reporter, attorney, mayor of Evansville, state congressman, and until last year chancellor at Ivy Tech. Rokita’s name has appeared regularly in Indiana news stories over the years and will therefore win. Judging by the gaping void on local TV where anti-Rokita attack ads should be, I’m guessing Weinzapfel didn’t have much of a war chest to pay for self-defense. Maybe he should’ve scrounged for dimes in the coin returns at Dr. Myers’ office.
US Representative: U.S. Congressman Andre Carson has had a lock on our district since 2008, when he inherited the seat from his late grandma Julia Carson, who’d previously held it since 1997. This year’s Republican sacrifice is one Susan Marie Smith, an attorney who’s occasionally taught at small colleges. I heard a radio spot from her people this morning for the first time, which tried to staple an EVIL SOCIALIST label onto Carson’s forehead. I’m surprised she didn’t simply spend a few bucks to record herself whispering, “Did you know that he’s…that he’s a…a Muslim? It’s true! I looked it up! Vote Susan Smith!”
State Representative: Democrat Renee Pack is running unopposed. Nice to have at least one comfy slam dunk tomorrow. Someone paid to make yard signs for her anyway, in case anyone out there is thinking about writing in “NONE OF THE ABOVE” or “Y’ALL CAIN’T MAKE ME VOTE FOR NO BLACKS” or “RECALL LESLIE KNOPE”.
County Treasurer: The incumbent is stepping down to become president of the National Association of State Treasurers in 2021, so it’s Adam Novotney (R), a Purdue grad from Illinois who works in the Indiana Health Department, against Barbara Lawrence (D), who’s currently CFO for the Marion County Sheriff’s office. I’m still deciding whether or not to have strong feelings for any of these criteria.
County Coroner: Current officeholder Lee Sloan (D) is running unopposed. I guess local Republicans couldn’t find someone who cared deeply about dead bodies.
County Surveyor: Incumbent Democrat Deborah Jenkins (in office since 2008) versus Republican Bill McLane, a lifelong realtor who used to be president of the de facto HOA over the Broad Ripple neighborhood, which used to be cool. Used to be.
Township School Board: Choose 3 out of 9 strangers. The Indianapolis Star used to run profiles on all candidates running for all offices, which was a handy voter guide in particular for these smaller races. Curiously the Indiana GOP’s campaign site lists only two nominees on their slate, but both their pages are COMING SOON and neither of them is actually on the ballot. It’s therefore my assumption that all nine candidates are Democrats, or secretly wish they were after the way 2020 has gone.
Would you like to retain eighteen different interchangeable judges?: I have no idea if this is a thing all states do, but our judges are required to be put up for binary “(Y/N)?” re-approval every so often, even though the only people who recognize judges by name are their colleagues and their defendants. The number 18 is not an exaggeration on my part. Over half our ballot is devoted to this bit of civil tedium.
Of this long list, almost none of them have bought TV ads on any stations we watch. Granted, attack ads have been clogging Jeopardy! breaks as they do every year, but all the ads are for races in other districts that have nothing to do with us.
The absolute, unqualified worst of the lot is the ferocious battle in Indiana’s 5th Congressional District between Cuban-American Democrat Christina Hale and Ukrainian-American Republican Victoria Spartz, whose sides collectively have raised and/or blown over $18 million on this duel. Eight. Teen. MILL. Yun. Their faces air during the morning news more than our actual news anchors’ do. And they’re not even running in our area. The 5th District largely comprises Hamilton County, that elite part of central Indiana where the upper class hide from the rest of us and hoard all the best restaurants. We know their faces better than any of the faces we can actually vote for. And we’re really, really, really tired of them.
To be continued…tomorrow at the polls! Everyone hang on for dear life, check on your loved ones regularly, and duck hard if you hear the sound of the General Lee’s car horn.