Our founding fathers did one thing right. They chose the first Tuesday in November for Election Day, instead of the last day of October. What a difference a week makes! Imagine what would happen if Election Day fell on Halloween.
• Your polling place is a haunted house. You have to enter in complete darkness and dodge bloody brides wielding chain saws just to receive your ballot. Then when you enter the voting booth, you find a variety of bowls filled with peeled grapes (eyeballs), cold spaghetti (brains or guts, depending on who you ask), and cooked rice (maggots) for you to feel as you fill in your ballot. Scary music and maniacal laughter stream from the ballot box when you insert your ballot. Then you have to pass through a curtain of cobwebs just to get out of the place. On the way out you encounter a collection of zombie exit pollsters, clutching clipboards and staring at you with their empty eyes as they quiz you on how you voted.
• The people standing on the street corners in the rain waving campaign signs are all dressed in costumes. The sight of witches, vampires, and life-sized donuts waving red, white, and blue signs for their favorite candidates liven up your morning commute.
• The candidates have to compete in a costume contest. Never mind about issues or campaign promises. The person with the best costume wins the election, plain and simple. Dressing up as a politician is definitely not allowed.
• You can trick-or-treat at the polling place. Instead of the ubiquitous “I Voted” stickers, poll workers hand out candy. If they really want to get out the vote, they bypass the inexpensive bags of salt-water taffy and go straight for the Costco packs of full-sized chocolate bars. No fair handing out packs of baby carrots or individually wrapped toothbrushes!
• You can get excited about decorating for the election. You can hang up red, white, and blue twinkling lights, and drape a few skeletons and spider webs across your political yard signs. You can carve your favorite candidate’s face on your pumpkin, or project his or her face across your garage door in a multicolored light show, complete with a selection of pithy quotes. Or you can set those quotes to dark music and broadcast them into the night on Halloween.
• You can join a party. Halloween parties are so much more fun than political parties. You don’t have to donate any money — a plate of pretzel spiders or worms and dirt is all you need to bring. You don’t need to worry about your party affiliation — it’s easy to be bipartisan and go to multiple parties in one night.
• Or you can stay at home and hand out candy to the trick-or-treaters who come to your door. When the candidates come door knocking, feel free to give them some candy as well. It’s not a bribe or an effort to curry favor if it takes place on Halloween night.
• Beware: you run the risk of having a trick played on you. The time-honored tradition of dirty tricks in politics lends itself to Halloween mayhem. It might be voter suppression through surrounding potential voters’ homes with T-Rex skeletons, or sabotaging polling places by smashing pumpkins on their front steps.
• If you happen to be the candidate, grab your witch’s broom and make a clean sweep of the election. Or dress as a skeleton and rattle a few bones in the establishment. If you’re costumed as a super-hero, you can make outrageous campaign promises that would require super powers to fulfill. Or you can be a ghost, walking through walls in the halls of power.
But in sober fact, Election Day comes a week later than Halloween. You have time to clean up the smashed pumpkins in your yard, put away the scary costumes, and recover from your sugar high before making those important decisions in the voting booth. You might even get one last visit from a door-knocking politician between Halloween and Election Day. That’s what all that leftover candy is for.
Just remember — there is such a thing as early voting. You can vote on Halloween.
• Peggy McKee Barnhill is a wife, mother and author who writes cozy mysteries under the pen name “Greta McKennan.” She likes to look at the bright side of life.