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The Column

Ghouls, Goblins, and Candidates

Every now and then, Halloween and Election Day fall side by side. It's an interesting dynamic, since one features people canvassing the neighborhood, pretending to be something they're not, and the other is called "Halloween."

You see what I did there? You thought I was going one way, and I went the other. Classic misdirection. Like the news organizations and candidates have already been doing for months. (Oh, snap!)

As frightened as I am about the possible results of this election, the thing I am most looking forward to is not having to hear about it anymore. In the last three days, I've gotten more than 10 emails from the Kerry campaign explaining why it's important for me to vote for him. I understand and appreciate what they're trying to do, but that's more than the emails I get about how to decrease my mortgage and increase my manhood combined.

The emails are for naught, however, since I already voted (and am perfectly happy with the size of my, um, mortgage). I sent in my absentee ballot earlier this week, paying $13.65 so that express mail would get it there on time. It never cost me anything to vote before, unless you count the time I was stuck in line behind a really chatty woman. But that's how important voting was to me this year – even more important than a firm I never contacted accepting my mortgage application for a house I don't own.

I have always supported the idea of everyone going out and voting, but seeing the ballot made me change my mind. There's a lot on there that the vast majority of voters know nothing about. And even if you vote along party lines, I bet you don't know which judges to vote for. I decided to research them before I voted. Thankfully, they all had websites. I know that because a number of them e-mailed me.

One of the judge's websites particularly caught my eye. In Los Angeles County, while most of the judges are running on platforms of supporting legislation for inner city education programs, she posted a picture of herself skiing. I don't know if you've ever been to Los Angeles, but those who ski and those who actually live within Los Angeles County aren't often the same people. I voted for the other judge (who sent me fewer emails).

The thing that concerns me most, however, is not how well we know a judge or a congressman or even a senator. It's how many people will be voting for our president without knowing much about either candidate. Okay, there are several presidential candidates on the ballot, most of whom we've never heard of. But let's concentrate on the two that could win.

Earlier this week, I was in the Dallas area, where "New York liberals" (being from New York, I was automatically labeled a liberal) are not always agreed with. When I ordered the vegetarian meal at the hotel, the waitress tried to give me chicken. The logic there must be that it's not quite as meaty as a cow.

One girl was explaining to me that she supported Bush because he knows more about war than Kerry. When I asked her about Kerry's experience in the military vs. Bush's, she was shocked to find out that Kerry had served and Bush hadn't. That's right – she somehow mistakenly thought Bush had been a soldier and Kerry had been a deserter. It's okay though – turned out she's allergic to TV, newspaper, and conversation, so she had no real way of knowing the truth before we talked. After our chat, she broke out into hives.

I'm not using her as an example of the political knowledge of the Dallas area, as I came across a number of very well read and educated voters while there (who all very much enjoyed their steak). But she is an example of the political knowledge of a lot of voters in this country.

With Election Day so close, it will be hard to learn enough about the issues in time to vote the way you truly believe (especially if you don't have access to email). But I want to through a caveat into the whole "Rock the Vote" concept. Please go vote – but know something about who you're voting for.

When you have 10 minutes to spare, check out It's a non-partisan site that matches your views with the candidate closest to you. Regardless of if you ski or not, it's worth the time.

Now if you'll excuse me, Interest Rates are at Their Lowest Point in 40 Years!

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