Deep breath, everyone. Election Day has arrived. I apologise yet again to my overseas readers for the veritable sea of election-related coverage that appears to be consuming everyone’s news cycles even though we only seem to care about your elections when we’re fixing them or you’re electing an attractive Prime Minister. For those of you in the US who are eligible voters, I hope you’ve voted or are going to vote. If you’re an absentee voter who hasn’t voted yet, don’t panic: Call your county clerk or registrar and find out what to do with your ballot or if you can go to the polls instead.
For those of you who aren’t eligible voters, I’m sorry that this country has labyrinthine and obnoxious systems designed to disenfranchise you, and I hope that the rest of us do you justice today.
Have a video of someone tickling a penguin.
All right, carry on.
If you voted absentee but you’re not sure your ballot arrived, call your county clerk or check online — you should be able to confirm that it got there and was counted or will be counted. If you’re an in-person voter and you can’t remember where your polling place is, here’s a polling place locator kindly hosted by the Democratic National Committee (you don’t need to be a Democrat to use it). If you have problems at the polls, contact Election Protection (866.OUR.VOTE). If you see someone else in trouble, intervene, whether it’s by firmly escorting them away from harassers or providing them with Election Protection’s number. (Remember: You can’t tell people how to vote or make electioneering statements, or follow them into the polling booth.)
If you’re worried about voting hours, here’s a breakdown on Ballotpedia. If there are lines, as long as you are in line when polls close, you have the right to remain, vote, and be counted. If your work is committed to social justice, hopefully you have the day off. If not, you are legally entitled to time off to vote. If you have trouble getting to the polls, contact your local campaign office — many are coordinating transit for voters.
Sport your ‘I voted’ sticker with pride. You earned it.
If you think voting is exciting and super great and fantastic, be enthusiastic! For those of us who experience a deep thrill from voting, presidential elections are like our Olympics, the one day everyone else finally cares about our sport. Be zesty! Be unapologetically excited about exercising your rights! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! Voting is great! Everyone should have the right to vote so that this becomes a truly participatory democracy! Yes! Let us all work to achieve a society in which everyone has the opportunity to be as gleeful as we are.
If you think voting is a necessary but unpleasant duty, well, uh, thanks for doing it anyway, because your vote is important and it does matter. Your personal specific individual vote might not decide a race or issue, but the cumulative effect of millions of people like you is going to make a difference. Go you. Seriously, I’m not being sarcastic. Your decision to take time out of your day to do something you’re not wildly enthusiastic about really does matter.
If this is the very first election in which you’ve been able to vote and you’ve been a bit dismayed by the rollercoaster ride, I swear it’s not always like this. In fact, it’s often quite tame and orderly. I swear. But this trial by fire will at least make an excellent story to tell in the future when all your friends can’t even remember their first elections and you can be like ‘WELL. LET ME TELL YOU.’
I know I’m not the only one who will be anxiously bouncing all over the internet in a fire of impatience and stress today, so, you know, remember this: Exit polls are weird. Sometimes really weird. Like yes, people do use them to forecast outcomes and often do so really accurately, but those people are relying on a great deal of cumulative data, and they are also relying on elections that are, you know, normal. 2016 has been a statistician’s nightmare. People aren’t always truthful in exit polls and it can throw sampling off, sometimes considerably. We may end up with inflated or underrepresented numbers for various candidates and issues. Remind people of this. Exit polls and forecasts are useful, but they shouldn’t be grounds for sighing and staying home instead of voting.
Yes this includes you on the West Coast with me, yes this election will probably be called before our polls close, or very shortly after, yes a candidate will likely be in the clear lead well before polls close, but, guess what: Please vote. Please vote not just because it matters in the presidential race, but because this year’s ballot is packed full of all kinds of candidates and issues no matter where you are. Vote if you care about who sits on city council. Vote if you think that adult performers should be able to make their own decisions about when and how to use condoms. Vote if you want progressive voices in Congress and in your State House. Vote if you want a government and a country you believe in.
Vote, or we all become this penguin.
I’ll see you on the internet. In the meanwhile, if the apocalypse comes, beep me.