November 1, 2004

Warning: Graphic Description of Democracy [Open Thread]

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at November 1, 2004 10:28 PM

Last week's quote (If you never return it / Will it break your wings?) was from Blonde Redhead's beautiful and sad song "Elephant Woman" on Misery is a Butterfly. I featured this album on the sidebar a while ago, and it's become one of my favorites.

The new quote is difficulty: Excessive; 6 points. Of course, I don't actually want anyone to forget to vote, so Arcane Gazebo is proud to present a public service announcement from Spider Jerusalem:

You want to know about voting. I'm here to tell you about voting. Imagine you're locked in a huge underground nightclub filled with sinners, whores, freaks, and unnameable things that rape pit bulls for fun. And you ain't allowed out until you all vote on what you're going to do tonight. You like to put your feet up and watch "Republican Party Reservation." They like to have sex with normal people using knives, guns, and brand-new sexual organs that you did not know existed. So you vote for television, and everyone else, as far as your eye can see, votes to fuck you with switchblades. That's voting. You're welcome.

(Thanks to Josh for looking up that passage.) In other Spider Jerusalem news, local readers should note that Warren Ellis is signing at Comic Relief on Thursday evening.

Please share any interesting voting experiences in the comments! I may be blogging in the evening about election returns, depending on where I am.


I voted on Friday, the last day of early voting in Travis County, Texas. My local supermarket was the polling place, and in the 11 days of early voting leading up to Friday, that one location had seen over 7,000 voters. Voting was quick (the whole process took about 10 minutes) and easy--even though we're using those electronic machines you may have been reading about that when you vote straight Democratic ticket you seem to be casting a vote for Bush. (Long story short: because of a ballot initiative on light rail in some precincts, there's the appearance of Bush's name being highlighted on the screen when you scroll to cast your vote on that initiative. It's a red herring [bad pun, I know] but has made for lively lunchtime and happy hour conversation in Austin the last two weeks.)

Yesterday's New York Times carried an article on the heavy early voter turnout in Texas and how that among other factors is expected to impact the results this year: Bush is expected to carry Texas (of course) but by a much smaller margin than 2000. Among the numbers the article reported were some really interesting ones:

"With Texas one of 23 states that allow early balloting, the turnout has been breaking records. By the end of Friday, after 12 days of early voting, more than 2.2 million Texans had cast ballots in person and by mail in the 15 most populous counties, far more than the 1.5 million who voted early over 14 days in 2000."


""The interest in the state is phenomenal," Professor Stein of Rice said. "Normally 75 percent of voters say they will vote and under 53 percent ended up voting in 2000. Now 97 percent say they will vote.""


"The youth vote may also prove a vital factor. In 2000, only 25 percent of eligible voters from 18 to 25 voted in Texas, said Mary Dixson, associate director of the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Participation at the University of Texas. Already, she said, more students at the university had cast ballots in early voting than voted at all in 2000."

This morning as I drove my dogs to the groomer's I saw a brightly dressed young woman standing on the corner opposite my local Starbuck's (the one where I ran into Governor Ann Richards recently) waving a large Kerry/Edwards sign. As folks drove by, many of them honked or waved in support.

Coming home from that same Starbuck's following a meeting later, I saw on the corner near my house (about a block away from my precinct's polling place) two small yard signs that each said: "Democrats LIE! Remember THAT. VOTE NOW."

I'm looking forward to a landslide victory for Kerry/Edwards tonight.

(Side question for Travis: Under your Kerry shirt that was under the sweater as you voted today were you wearing a Dean shirt? )

Posted by: Dave Hime | November 2, 2004 1:41 PM

Hi Dave! That's really good news about voter enthusiasm, especially in a safe state like Texas (since swing staters will presumably be even more motivated). Turnout will be the key to a Kerry victory.

The exit polls are looking good...

It's not quite cold enough in Berkeley for me to wear three layers. :) But I hope there's a place for Dean in the Kerry administration (HHS Secretary?) or the DNC; his candidacy was really helpful to the party as a whole in a lot of ways.

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | November 2, 2004 2:15 PM

Early exit polling is looking good. These numbers are from via

48 46 49 54 50 50 51 50 51 Kerry
50 53 51 45 49 49 47 48 46 Bush

(The spacing is off, but you get the idea...)

Posted by: Dave Hime | November 2, 2004 2:48 PM

Wonkette has lots of exit poll data, almost all of which is good news. Unfortunately her site is collapsing under all the traffic.

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | November 2, 2004 2:52 PM

Just saw that Zogby has called it for Kerry.

Posted by: Dave Hime | November 2, 2004 3:00 PM

I like those Zogby numbers; with 311 electoral votes two states would have to be overturned to reverse the outcome.

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | November 2, 2004 3:21 PM

Any idea how good the data will be when the polls close at 7 ET? The exit polls are looking good, but i've too many questions about them to feel optimistic yet. ; ; (Mainly, are they a good representative sample of those voting?).

Posted by: Zifnab | November 2, 2004 3:42 PM

Oh yeah - I like the comment about System of the World on the sidebar. :) I'm in the middle of that one right now, and in some of the deliciously explodey parts. I think the most recent explosion was quite a surprise for Newton and Waterhouse. Not exactly the gory death they were expecting. :)

Posted by: Zifnab | November 2, 2004 3:46 PM

All the experts are saying to take the exit polls with a large grain of salt. I think we can be hopeful, but not confident yet.

Soon I have to tear myself away from the internets and go to group meeting... maybe they won't notice if I surreptitiously check the latest numbers on my cell phone. :)

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | November 2, 2004 3:49 PM

I must be slightly ahead of you in System of the World (I'm near the beginning of Book 7). The scenes at the end of book 6 were really incredible. :)

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | November 2, 2004 3:51 PM

Hah, good luck with group meeting. Group meetings here are on thursdays. ;) I wonder how long it'll be til the important state results are known - it seems like most of the uncertainty is in the farther east states.

Posted by: Zifnab | November 2, 2004 3:52 PM

As I have the book handy, i'll check. (No, i'm not reading it at work, it's in my backpack for when I go to class... that sounds bad, but it's a class i'm TAing and already know pretty darn well). The explosion I was referring to is on pg311, and it appears i'm currently a bit into book 7, ~pg 327 or so, talking about Caroline. (Class ended while I was in the middle, however it wasn't so gripping that I absolutely had to continue, unlike the end of book 6 where it was a must finish sort of thing.)

Posted by: Zifnab | November 2, 2004 3:55 PM

I have the same interruption coming up in just under an hour -- a business meeting where I will be checking results on my Treo.

Virginia and South Carolina are too close to call, which is great news since they are both considered strong red states.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 2, 2004 3:56 PM

Yeah, I seem to recall I'm around page 390 or 400, at the point Princess Caroline is leaving Hanover.

South Carolina? Wow!

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | November 2, 2004 3:59 PM

Wow, those two being too close to call is astounding. I heard rumors that NC was going to be close also, which would be outstanding.

Yep, you're a bit farther along than me. I want the action to go back to Waterhouse or Jack ;) Or Dappa, actually. His actions near the end of book 6 were surprising but made me very intrigued.

Posted by: Zifnab | November 2, 2004 4:01 PM

Bah, even though polls have closed in 9 states now, there isn't much interesting from the positive data (which ones people are calling). I suppose the negative data (which races are too close to call) is interesting, but there's not enough actual numbers there. Consequently, my program is nearly debugged, yay!

Posted by: Zifnab | November 2, 2004 4:46 PM

Yeah, I just got back from group meeting and the networks are still calling just the safe states: New England for Kerry, the South for Bush. Not enough data in the swing states yet...

I should get back to work instead of compulsively refreshing the websites of the various cable news networks. :)

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | November 2, 2004 5:32 PM

Yep, CNN just called NC/SC/VI for bush, which is unsurprising still. Following the Zogby prediction, those are all as expected, so nothing to worry about still. ; ; But... Ohio + Florida...

Posted by: Zifnab | November 2, 2004 5:43 PM

Looks like some of the midwest results are in, as well as NY and RI. Nothing surprising yet though.

Posted by: Zifnab | November 2, 2004 5:53 PM

Looking at the numbers, it seems like Bush wins Florida (52-47 with 89% precincts reporting) but none of the networks want to call it.

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | November 2, 2004 7:40 PM

Interesting, that'll definately make it way too close. ; ; Hopefully those other 11% are all good.

Posted by: Zifnab | November 2, 2004 7:55 PM

Hmm, I'm seeing that a huge number of absentee ballots were used in the democratic counties in Florida. Think that's what's skewed the numbers towards bush? I had expected it to be closer than 5%, but if a larger percentage of the democratic areas used absentee ballots, that could account for my missed perception.

Posted by: Zifnab | November 2, 2004 8:27 PM

I knew Warren Ellis was going to be in SF (I read his blog--it's great, but any given post has a ~3% chance of making your brain bleed. Worth the risk though), but signing at Comic Relief? That store is awesome--it's the one just a block or two off telegraph, south of campus, right?

On that note, I think Spider Jerusalem has contributed to my reluctance to vote for Kerry, because subconciously I'm terrified of the Smiling Man.

In the end, I do hope Kerry wins, but I didn't vote for him. Funny... the first time I feel this strongly morally obligated to vote, and I refuse to cast my vote in a way that could actually make a difference. I can't completely rationalize my decision, but I am sure that it was the choice that will leave me feeling the best about myself... (Hrm, smug self-satisfaction at the expense of the country? Wow, I really am an American!)

I still think Douglas Adams had it right, except instead of thinking it was funny, as I did when I read it years and years ago, I just think it's the sad truth.

Oh, and was did anyone else succumb to the temptation to play around with the inking tool? I know my hands had bunches of little black dots on them by the time I was done.

Posted by: Lemming | November 2, 2004 8:55 PM
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