Working the Margins

Working the Margins

(a “character” preview to “EMINENT CRIMES”)

I’m the Town Clerk for Longbottom, Massachusetts. I’ve been in office for 27 years. Once, I had opposition. I ran the election, and my opponent lost by a narrow margin. What a surprise.

Longbottom is a traditional town. People have lived here for generations. The new people who move into town are ignored. They make no difference, anyway. The old-timers run this town and always have. Town jobs are divvied up among the sons and daughters of townies. After all, they’re the ones who deserve it. They’ve been the ones hangin’ with the town through thick and thin.

My job is to oversee elections. Local elections offer the biggest chance for creativity. For one thing, the state and feds don’t really give a damn about local doings. So long as their revenues roll in, they’re satisfied.

How can a Town Clerk be creative? Let me count the ways. One way is to add up the numbers from the precincts wrong. A misfire of the calculator, so to speak. Another way is to have the townies vote by absentee, and again on election day.

The easiest way—like taking candy from a baby—is fiddling with the absentee ballots. The absentees are turned in early, and put in my office for safekeeping. I have the only key. I replace the ballots with new ones that voted the right way. I always leave a few alone to keep it looking realistic.

Before the last coupla elections, I’ve been telling the townspeople to vote early— by absentee ballot—to avoid the lines on election day. I’ve gone on local cable T.V. with my pitch and it seems to be working. Absentees are way up this year.

This election has a bunch of so-called “reformers” running for office. I wish ‘em good luck, naturally. But I do happen to have a big margin of absentees this cycle. I’ll let you know how it went, late Tuesday night, alright?