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November 02, 2004

Report from deepest "blue" America

I'm Attila, and I'm reporting for duty.

What's that? Someone's already used that line? OK, never mind.

I'm here to give a report on voting at my precinct in Montgomery County, Maryland, a county where Gore beat Bush in 2000 by 63% to 34%. In my area of the county, we are chock full of upper-middle-class liberals, whose opinion of their own intellect is exceeded only by their moral certitude in politics. You disagree, you die. (For an example elsewhere in my county, see here.)

Polls opened at 7 a.m. I arrived at 6:55 and discovered a line outside the polling place.

A neighbor showed up at the same time I did and he promptly confirmed Mrs. Attila's suspicion that he was on our side. Around here, people like us stay away from discussing politics with people whose views we don't know, and being a conservative is like being part of an underground organization. It's a little reminiscent of the Brotherhood in Orwell's 1984, though I don't want to exaggerate. OK, yes, I do. My neighbor began complaining about our senator, Barbara Mikulski. He gets his hair cut at the Senate barber shop (didn't explain why), and he says everyone's afraid of Senator M, who tends to yell and scream. Me: Worse than Hillary? Neighbor: Like her, but you have to add the short person's complex. (Mikulski is less than 5 feet tall.)

Turnout was pretty heavy, though I recall it's always that way in presidential (and gubernatorial) elections. I thought about telling everyone to go home, since Kerry has already won Maryland, but I was concerned that the people would glare me to death. The line moved slowly, but I got in to the room housing the voting booths a little before 7:30. I noticed there were Republican poll watchers there. I wanted to tell them they were wasting their time; they should be in Florida or Ohio. It was nice to see that ballot security has been upgraded. In the past, the conversation went like this: Me (to poll worker): My name is [real name]. Poll worker: Do you still live at [my address]? No ID required. No one is allowed to roll his eyes -- too intimidating. Today, it went like this: Me (to poll worker): My name is [real name]. Poll worker: What's your date of birth -- month and day? Me: [correct answer] Poll worker: What's your address? Me: [correct answer]. Well, that just weeded out the 0.2% of fraudulent voters who are too stupid to know what they're doing. But at least it's something.

We voted with Diebold touch-screen machines. It works pretty well, though there's apparently no receipt for your vote. At least, they had no numbered receipt to give me. My consolation prize was a sticker that said "I voted" and also "Yo voté." I asked for one in Yiddish, but they didn't have it. Damned anti-semites.

My goal is for Bush to reach 40% in Montgomery County. I would say it's a long shot.