Civic Duty

Civic duty swag! Woooooo!

Some of you may think of America as the land of the free. Fortunately, I’m here to smarten you up. As payment for being a citizen of the United States of America, some things are requested of us. These things are called Civic Duties and none of them are very fun, let me tell you.

Civic Duties

Pay Taxes
I have paid approximately the Gross National Product of Namibia in taxes in my lifetime (I just made that up. The GNP of Namibia is actually 15 billion dollars. Who knew?). Anyway, I have paid a lot of money in taxes.

Register with Selective Service
Registering for Selective Service is something males do when they turn eighteen. Men between the ages of 18 and 25 are required to fill out a draft card just in case compulsory service in the military is ever required. The US has an all volunteer military and hasn’t invoked the draft since the Vietnam War.

Jury Duty
Booooooo. My last bout with jury duty can be found here.

I voted yesterday. I vote every time there’s an election, which in California, is all the goddamn time. California, unlike most other American states, has a ballot initiative system. To quote the wiki I just linked:

A ballot proposition is a proposed law that is submitted to the electorate for approval in a direct vote. It may take the form of a constitutional amendment or an ordinary statute. A ballot proposition may be proposed by the State Legislature or by a petition signed by members of the public under the initiative system. In California a vote on a measure referred to voters by the legislature is a mandatory referendum; a vote to veto a law that has already been adopted by the legislature is an optional referendum or “people’s veto”; the process of proposing laws by petition is the initiative.

Basically, what that means is that any idiot can submit a law in California. All you need is enough signatures and your stupid proposition is on the ballot! Wooo! This means that I have to drag my skippy ass to the polls after work again to vote on your idiocy (or non-idiocy, as the case may be. Usually. idiocy).

Yesterday, I went to my polling place to find twelve people sitting at two tables. These twelve people were my polling place volunteers made up of the very old and the very young. The only people who have time to volunteer as poll workers are retired folks and high school kids who get to take the day off of school to do it. They were all there to serve me since I was the only person there to vote. I felt very much like a VIP.  Really, I only needed one or two of them. The rest were superfluous since they didn’t even make me a sandwich or give me a foot rub.

The last election was in November. I just voted yesterday. The next one will be in May. I’m all for civic duty and all, but come on, California. Do we really have to vote every other month? No wonder the turnout was abysmally low yesterday. When you force people to vote every couple of months, well, it gets a little tiresome.

Only 16% of registered voters voted yesterday. In Los Angeles, in one district with over 250,000 constituents, only 9,000 or so voted. That’s embarrassing. Not only that, but it gives the rest of us who do vote an inordinate amount of power. My voted counted for roughly five others. I have the power!

This is me with my mighty voting sword smiting all the lazy non-voters.

This is me with my mighty voting sword. He-Man, Mattel.
He-Man, Mattel.

Don’t get me wrong, I very much approve of the fact that California has a ballot initiative system. Anyone can propose a law and we all get to vote on it. In California, your vote really does count. It’s like we’re all part of the legislature. It’s pretty neat when you think about it. I just wish that it didn’t happen so often. It’s not like I’m paid like a member of the legislature.

Most of my friends have their ballots set to permanent absentee which means they can vote by mail, but I’ve always enjoyed the process of going in to a polling place to vote. I like ticking off the little boxes. I like getting my “I voted” sticker in person. Somehow, voting in person makes me feel more of a part of the process. That said, next time, I’m seriously considering marking the permanent absentee box so that I can vote by mail.