Finally, I’m done. A few people have commented to me that I’m putting a lot of work into my votes here. It probably shouldn’t take this much work to vote thoughtfully, as candidates would ideally be forthcoming with clear positions on issues. But voting thoughtfully also shouldn’t be exceptional enough that it’s worth a comment. Unfortunately, voting itself is still exceptional in America.

In my fantasy America, election day is a national holiday during which we celebrate living democracy. Businesses would shut down and we’d have nothing better to do than to vote thoughtfully. We’d all have election day parties, at which showing up without an "I voted" sticker would be like showing up at a Halloween party without a costume, or showing up at a birthday party without a gift.

But until that happens, this is the democracy we have, and these are the ovals I filled in on my ballot. Now who are you voting for? And why?

 

Between the Court of Appeals, District Court, and District Associate Judges, I am asked to decide if eleven different judges should keep their jobs. Prior to recieving my ballot, I knew nothing about any of them. I started looking for information on each of them, but I didn’t find much. But then I found the Iowa State Bar Association’s reviews of each judge. From a single document, I was able to see what dozens of lawyers thought about every judge in the state. The votes for retention are very high in general, so I set my bar at 90%. If more than 90% of the responding lawyers voted to retain a given judge, I did the same. If less than 90% of lawyers voted to retain, I voted against.

As a result, I voted for retention on Anuradha Vaitheswaran, Van D. Zimmer, John C. Miller, Eliza J. Ovrom, Artis I. Reis, Carol L. Coppola, Carol S. Egly, and Louise M. Jacobs. I voted against retention for Donna L. Paulsen, Gregory D. Brandt, and William A. Price. I expect all of these judges will be retained, but I hope the slightly lower percentages on election day might cause some judge to improve Punctuality for court proceedings or Clarity and quality of written opinions.

 

There are five candidates for the Polk County Agricultural Extension Council. My ballot instructs me to vote for no more than five. I found nothing online suggesting there is anything wrong with any of the candidates. So I voted for them all.

 

There are three candidates for Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioner: Donald Soutter, Jane Clark, and Shirley Danskin-White. I voted for Jane Clark, the only candidate who had any information I could find online.

 

There are thee candidates for Polk County Public Hospital Trustee. My ballot instructs me to choose two. It’s a refreshing change for such a local office to have actual competition. Unfortunately, the competitors don’t seem to care much about getting votes. Karen Ellis is the only candidate with a website I could find. So I voted for her first. But I couldn’t find any information two help me choose between the other two, Mary B. Fuller and David Harkness. As I said earlier, I think we need more women in government, so I voted for Fuller.

 

I believe deeply that the lesson of Marie Antoinette (the lesson omitted from Marie Antoinette) is the critical one: You can indulge, and enjoy, for now, it is true; but sooner or later an angry mob will come round smashing your chandeliers and disconnecting your body at the neck.

Ezra Kilty. It’s the first noble truth: an angry mob will come round smashing your chandeliers.

 

John P. Sarcone, running as a Democrat, is the only candidate for Polk County Attorney. He’s a sixteen year incumbent. Everything about him — from his too-much-teeth smile to his "I like puppies" position against methamphetamines — make him seem a little suspicious. But I voted for him.