Voting time

By John Toth

I voted on the first day of absentee voting in Texas, and it felt good.

It didn’t take long. The line was short. The clerks were pleasant. The task was important.

I seldom vote for the winner in national elections, so if I told you how I voted, you would know which candidate is going to win. And, I don’t want to deprive anyone of the excitement for a few more days as the race goes down to the wire.

As you can tell, we at The Bulletin are neutral in print. We don’t run columns or cartoons from either side of the political spectrum. I learned a long time ago that a one-sided political cartoon is only funny to those readers who agree with it.

That’s the nature of political humor. While one side may be laughing, the other side is probably steaming. Except when Bob Hope was doing it. He had both sides laughing as he maneuvered through the political humor landmine.

Here are two examples. People who watch Fox News don’t think David Letterman is funny. And, people who like Letterman do not think Dennis Miller is funny.

But there is nothing funny about voting, except for the fact that the woman next to me just about crashed her voting machine. That was pretty funny. The clerk fixed it.

Anyway, I voted, and it felt pretty good because I had to come a long way to vote in free elections.

I cast my first vote in 1976, shortly after I became a naturalized citizen. I immigrated here from Hungary at a time when that country was under the control of the now-defunct Soviet Union.

Back in the USSR-occupied countries when I was a child in the 1960s, there weren’t any free elections. There was only one party to vote for - the Communist Party.

I remember that my parents had to go vote, or they would have been penalized. I heard them talking about what a sham the whole process was after they returned.

Most of the people considered it a joke. They went through the steps because they had to. A few, of course, towed the party line, and many more pretended to tow it so that they could get perks, like an apartment, or permission to buy a car. At least, that’s how my parents described it.

The cars were pieces of junk, built in the Eastern bloc, but it was better than nothing. We didn’t get one, though.

It’s all different now. Former Iron Curtain countries like Hungary are democratic and hold free elections. Yes, they are free to bicker like us.

So, while I was waiting in line to vote, I was thinking about how routine this process is, even though it equates to a revolution every two to four years. We cast our ballots, they are counted, and the winners are announced. If the incumbent loses, he or she steps aside and allows the winner to take over. There is no fighting, no tanks, no civil uprising, just a routine transition of power.

Then it was my turn to start voting. I showed a drivers license because I have long lost my voter registration card. I made my way into a voting booth and started wondering when this county is going to switch to touch-screen voting machines. It would be a lot easier than turning that little wheel to the letter or number.

Oh, the agony of doing one’s civic duty. Done. Time to collect some pens, pencils and nail files. I love democracy.