Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Bob Dunning: Information so important, we needed it twice


From page A2 | May 04, 2014 |

Like so many of us, my friend Raoul on the Egyptian Street received an important document in the mail last week.

“Among the mail,” Raoul writes, “were two identical-appearing white 8½-by-11 booklets.”

I think I got the same thing at the same time.

“They came from the Yolo County Office of Elections in Woodland. Both were brilliant white and absolutely immaculate. You’d never know they had come all the way from Woodland.”

I think the marketing people call that “pure-as-the-driven-snow” white. All I know is that I had to put on my sunglasses to cut the glare when it arrived in my mailbox.

“The covers promised that inside I would find voter information. Eager for information of any sort about voters, I sat down to give them a read.”
Reading about voters is not exactly my cup of tea on a busy afternoon, but to each his own.

“I wondered why I received two of these, and eventually I figured it out: one was addressed to me and one to my wife. I guess for some reason the officials at the elections office assume my wife and I are not speaking or do not share possessions well and therefore each need our own copy of this document.”

Ah, if only couples subscribed to the newspaper in the same way, we’d sell twice as many copies and I could finally buy that vacation home in Tillamook.

I don’t know about you, Raoul, but in our humble household my sweetheart throws my Sample Ballot away, reads her copy to me out loud, then tells me how to vote. It has worked well for us over the years, even if we don’t always get who we want into office.

“I began my perusal of my copy of the document to see what sort of voter information I might glean from it. One thing I noticed was the incredibly long list of candidates for governor.”

Indeed, I counted 15 candidates, including another spot for a write-in candidate in case none of the 15 suits your fancy.

There’s a minister named “Buycks” and a “Christian” who is not a minister. There’s a “Champ,” but no “Loser,” a “Newman,” but no “Newwoman,” a “Doctoral Student,” but no “Doctor” and a “Brown,” but no “Black.” There’s also a “golf course operator” who surprisingly is not a member of the Green Party, despite his occupation.

Also listed is a “psychologist/farmer” who apparently coaxes his corn to grow by reading to each stalk from the writings of Sigmund Freud.

“As I was scanning the list for someone whose name I recognized, I finally came upon Jerry Brown, the incumbent. His name was last on the list, even though, if sorted alphabetically, his name would have been near the top. I could not discern any method to the organization of the names and could only conclude that it was random. I checked my wife’s copy to see if this random organization of names was different from mine, and it was not. So much for my ‘random’ theory.”

Well, maybe it was random at the beginning of the process and then that initial randomness was repeated on all ballots.

“Turning the page, I came to a handy table intended to show which parties were running which candidates for which office. On the left side from top to bottom were listed all the elected offices, presumably with the most important office first, across the top of all the parties.”

For a lot of folks who don’t have time to read all those names, party affiliation is an important determiner of who gets their vote and who doesn’t.

“The first and most important office listed on the left was ‘Govenor.’ Not an office I’m familiar with, although it sounds very much like the Cockney ‘Guv’nor.’ I got out my child’s government textbook, but could find no information about the office of Govenor. There must be folks out there who know something I don’t know, because the table shows there are plenty of candidates for Govenor.”

There was also a listing for the “State Board of Equalizationn” for those who follow such things.

But you know, every year I let Elections Czar Freddie Oakley know I’m ready, willing and able to proofread the Sample Ballot for her, complete with arguments “for” and arguments “against” Measures P, Q, R, S and T, but every year she tells me she’s happy with the one she has.

Maybe this year I’ll get the job. If not, I’m appealing directly to Govenor Brown.

— Reach Bob Dunning at bdunning@davisenterprise.net





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