Polling places are miserable, but they don't have to be | Just Jaggin' | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Polling places are miserable, but they don't have to be

As an American citizen, you have the power to decide which old, rich, white man will further profiteer from our natural resources and labor, while providing absolutely nothing of tangible value to you or society. You’ll get a sticker, a selfie, and know you “made a difference.”

OK. That was too harsh. I don’t have a problem with people who celebrate voting, even though it takes zero skill to identify blue or red buttons; you are not held accountable for bad decisions; and, you probably didn’t do ANY research. My real problem is with the polling places. I’m talking about those sweaty gyms, dusty municipal buildings, and fish-fry cafeterias we’re forced to vote in. 

Why is the most heralded freedom in American democracy held in the same room where people wrestle or pay parking tickets? Why are voters forced to vote either before or after work, the grumpiest, most exhausting times of the day? Why is there only one person in the precinct who knows how the machines work and where to find your name in the register and she is on break? Why’s there a sad ashtray full of unidentifiable hard candy sheathed in opaque red, yellow, and teal wrappers? You can hope the red one is cherry flavored, but you know it’s going to taste like a shot of expired Fireball. Why is the lighting always bad? It’s either too dim from November’s lack of daylight or headache-inducing from the government-issued halogens. 

The voting process stinks, but it doesn’t have to: 

Don’t rush voters

We shouldn’t have to stand in lines and take time out of our schedules when I can literally get an HDMI cable from Amazon in 30 minutes. Can’t my “smart TV” log my vote from my house? 

Make polling places fun

Put voting booths in places where people actually like going to, such as the disco, drive-ins, or soda fountains. Finish your movie and your malt, then vote for your candidate. Choose your favorite politician during the previews with your smartphone.   

Increase the incentive

We get a sticker for participating in the most critical facet of our democratic process. Give me something I can use, like a Gloria Jean’s gift card or a fresh pair of slacks.

Raise the stakes

There should be a consequence if you pick the candidate who doesn’t win or you pick the winner, and they’re terrible, like putting the voters’ names on a jumbotron while playing the Price Is Right loser horn.  

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