We went to our polling place this morning, fearing long lines and difficult-to-grok voting apparatus. But not only were the machines working fine and easy to understand, there was no line. Like, at all.
As you may know, your average polling location is split up into a number of "election districts" which determine how many actual voting booths there are. Your address somehow determines which election district you are in. So we're in front of our booth, with no one else. All around us, every other district had fairly long lines, some prohibitively long. Not being one to look a gift horse in the mouth, we voted and got the hell out of there. But I gotta say, it looked a little weird.
Not to put too fine a point on it, we were pretty much the whitest people in the room. The only other white guy was filling out a provisional ballot … for our election district. It would not be hard to look at this scene and assume the palefaces had some kind of elevated status (like how first class passengers get to go through airport security faster). In short, on this historic day, we looked like the poster kids for White Privilege.
Now, I know that couldn't really be the case, but try looking up 'election district maps' and see what you find: Dick. What the hell is an election district? Anyway I eventually found them on some of the maps of other districts. Here (with a little inference) you can see that election districts are very small subdistricts, in my case 3 consecutive blocks. But more tellingly, my district is actually part of a larger Assembly district whose borders make me a part of Ocean Hill; we're just over the line by one block. Odd then, that my voting location is squarely in Bushwick, since many other designations include us with other neighborhoods. Who knows, but what it means is me and my 3-block radius vote in our own special bubble. Still, 3 blocks in this neighborhood is still a whole lot of people. (I'm sure they're all planning to vote when they get home from work.)
And it doesn't stop there, take a look at the Congressional District maps as well, it gives gerrymandering a bad name. You'd think that districts would be more or less blob-shaped, a circle or influence, or a square. But no, my district is a weird multi-pronged affair, covering several neighborhoods and spanning ridiculously-varied socioeconomic strata. Seems suspect, in any case. Forgive me if I seem cynical and paranoid, it's just been a long time since I voted and it felt like it mattered.