BEMIDJI, Minnesota. It’s 6:45 a.m. in this city of approximately 13,000, and self-described “political junkie” Ellen Piper is in line to become one of the first voters in the nation due to Minnesota’s status as the state where “early voting” starts first in America. “It’s a small distinction, I know,” the sixty-seven year-old says, “but it will give me something to remember in January when my husband Rolf disappears for his annual two-week hibernation in an ice-fishing hut.”
But when the life-long Democrat is asked what she thinks of Hillary Clinton’s choice for vice president, she does a double take: “I’m not voting in the 2016 election,” she says with the earnest tone she once used to correct her children’s grammar mistakes. “I’m voting for Elizabeth Warren in the next one,” she adds as the door to the Zoilo Versalles Middle School swings open, allowing her and a number of other senior citizens to take a ballot for an election that won’t kick off in earnest until the 2020 New Hampshire primary.
According to political scientists, Piper and others like her are the leading edge of a new phenomenon: voters so disgusted by overexposure to candidates and the poor choices made by the two major political parties that they “skip” an election and vote for the candidate they anticipate will get their party’s nod in the next four-year cycle. “It’s really quite understandable if you know a little biology,” says Professor Errol Halgarten of SUNY-Hornel. “Many recessive traits skip a generation, so we shouldn’t be surprised if someone refuses to vote for Donald Trump in the hope the GOP will clone a candidate from the DNA in Ronald Reagan’s comb.”
“Early voting” refers to the process by which individuals vote prior to a scheduled election day, and not just to dweebs who arrive at polling places before the doors open. The types of people who qualify for early voting include those who will be out of the jurisdiction, people with previously-scheduled pedicures, and obese men in sleeveless shirts with back hair and body odor that may “offend” others.
There is activity on both sides of the political spectrum at the Piper household as her husband Rolf waits his turn in line behind her. “I’m voting for Donald Trump, Jr., who as every intelligent person knows will take office in a military coup when his father is assassinated by shape-shifting mud lizards in 2018,” he says, pausing for a moment while Town Clerk “Evie” Shepherd finds his name on the list of registered Republican voters. How, this reporter asks in amazement, can he believe anything so crazy as the theory he’s just expounded?
“Easy,” he replies without a hint of a jest in his expression. “I learned this year that whatever outcome is craziest, that’s what’s gonna happen.”