The woodchuck looked at the queuing menagerie and contemplated screaming. How hard was it to dip your paw in ink and blot it next to a picture of who you thought should run the forest? Every single animal had a question or couldn’t remember what precinct their burrow was in or had a conspiracy theory they wanted to argue about; she had no idea voting was going to be so loud.
When her cousin Shirley had asked her if she wanted to be an election judge, she hadn’t been listening closely (which was always the best way to have a conversation with Shirley). Hearing the word “judge”, she had somehow taken that to mean that she was going to be on Judge Judy’s show; she relished the idea of testifying against all the animals she felt had wronged her. Unfortunately, now she was surrounded by all those same crazed creatures trying to “make their voices heard”. She was trying to stay impartial, but honestly, did anyone really want to hear what the possums had to say?
She looked around, bewildered, at the various pieces of technology as someone shouted at her that there was a mealy worm gumming up the ballot scanner and she needed to stick her paw in there to dislodge it. She couldn’t get the printer to work in her own burrow—why had anyone trusted her with this stuff?
The woodchuck hadn’t planned on voting in this election. She had decided to go into early hibernation and hoped to sleep through the whole thing. But the meadow and the forest had strange vibes about them lately, with the Foxes whispering stories about how the election was fixed before it even took place. They had brought in animals from other places to watch the polecats who were trying to keep order; there was a chameleon outside the voting area changing from camouflage to hot pink and then back again, which she guessed was supposed to be intimidating but just made her giggle. You could tell they weren’t from around here because the temperature had dropped last night and all the lizards sleeping in trees had frozen and fallen to the ground. They had thawed out by morning and gone back to the line to stick their tongues out at the waiting voters.
The big Muskrat who owned the river had stirred up all the birds and now the chattering about how they communicated with each other had become deafening, threatening to drown out what was actually at stake. The woodchuck wasn’t completely sure what Democracy was, but if it meant that she would never again have to listen to that semiaquatic water rodent try to ratsplain electric vehicles to her, she would be happy to vote for it.
Shirley had tried to explain to the woodchuck how important the issues were, but the roaring in her ears drowned out her cousin’s voice. Everything felt like it was on the verge of collapse. It was confusing and scary and she had to keep resisting the urge to go to sleep—she had never met an ostrich, but she envied their ability to stick their heads in the sand. Around the meadow, she was still known as the blind woodchuck, after her faux paw of staring directly into the sun during an eclipse; but also for her habit of willfully denying what was happening around her. She knew now, on this November 8th, that she had to reject that nickname and take off her sunglasses.
She gulped down a few stinkbugs for the caffeine hit, and handed out another ballot.
The Blind Woodchuck may have a brain the size of a pea, but even she understands how important it is to vote!