Tuesday, June 03, 2008

So, Is This Legal?

Happy Election Day – sort of. If you are living in New Jersey I hope you voted. I don’t care how you voted I just hope that you did so since I don’t believe you have much room to complain about the “powers that be” if you don’t participate in the process of "democracy". I am neither a republican nor a democrat and to yours truly, both of the grand old parties are all just a part of the same machine. Well, today I had the unusual and unique opportunity to see the machine in action. I thought that I would pass along the tale to YOU Gentle Reader so that I could ask and gage to see if what I saw and heard was / is legal or not.

Here is what happened. Two co-workers and myself stop into a deli before accomplishing a work related task that was set before us (I’d go into greater detail but I make a point to not discuss work here at Evil Chicken Scratch. You’ll have to wait for the novel). It’s about 11:40 AM and I notice that there seems to be a lot of people hanging around the place, to be more precise there was a large amount of Latino patrons hanging around the place. One guy had a great Spiderman club shirt that I was going to compliment him on but the sandwich that I ordered was calling my name. A politician came through the crowd and entered into (I kid you not) the back room where everyone was congregating. From my seat I could see the whole thing. He was polished in a nice shirt and tie and wearing fine tailored pants. There was quite a nice spread too; sandwiches of all shapes and sizes and buckets of coleslaw, potato & macaroni salad took up the whole area where the stage is located. There were bumper stickers and buttons for the candidate in question and thick manila envelopes were being passed out to the crowd of about 30 people.

“Ok, today the person who gets the most amount of people out to vote wins $500.00! The person that gets the second largest amount gets $250.00!” he announced. The crowd reacted with a quick but heartfelt smattering of applause.

“Is that legal?” I asked my coworkers.

“Politics? Unfortunately, yes.”

“No really, can he do that?” I asked again.

“I’m not sure.”

“Me neither.” I said grabbing my large cup of Black Satin coffee. I needed to hit the cream and sweetener station. I ran into one of the owners of the place there and smiled as I asked, “Hey, is this legal?”

He looked at me and smiled nervously; “…Yes it is good coffee.” And he shuffled away from where I stood. I looked over at the politician and our eyes met. He quickly turned back to his audience as I grabbed my three Splendas and my shot of half and half and headed back to our table.

“Enjoy the food.” The politician said. Some did and some didn’t. Those that did not were apparently hoping to grab a piece of that $500.00 prize. Hey, the early bird gets the worm. The politician put on a designer pair of dark glasses.

“He’s leaving.” I said. “Now whether it’s through the back door or the front door is still up for grabs.”

One of my co-workers glanced over her shoulder. That’s XXX.” She said.

“Really?” I said.

“Yep.” She said. I will not go into detail on the where’s and why’s she would know but, let’s just take it as a given, she knows. He walked passed our table as workers replenished the food that was eaten from the buffet.

“It looks like they are going to have another round of people come through here.” One of my co-workers said.

“Yeah, no doubt.” My other co-worker said.

I started humming the “Mission Impossible” theme. “I’ll be right back.”

“Where are you going?”

“To the bathroom. It’s not my fault that the bathroom happens to be past the back room.” I said.

“We’ll meet you in the van.”

I passed my coffee to one of my friends and thanked her for holding onto it. Off to the bathroom I went. On my way there I couldn’t help but notice the bumper stickers, buttons and manila envelopes scattered throughout the room. I made a mental note of where the buttons were, where the only two people in the room were and of the buffet.

…What can I say I love a buffet.

After using the facilities I decided to abscond with (not steal because stealing would be bad) a button. I needed to know who was selling whom. I smiled at the couple enjoying their sandwiches (they were engrossed in a deep political conversation), went to the table with the propaganda and took a button. I quickly stuck it into my right front pocket and exited the establishment giving my compliments to the fine hands that had crafted our sandwiches.

As I approached our van I flashed the button. My co-workers began to giggle, as did I. NOW I am pondering was what we, three humble servants during a half-lunch break, saw legal or not.

After getting home I relayed the experience to a paralegal I am well acquainted with. I will hold what she suggested in strict confidence until I hear from YOU Gentle Reader.

So… was it legal?


Merci said...

Don't know whether or not it is legal, but I am absolutely certain that it is both immoral and unethical. The politician's name should be revealed, and he should be held accountable for his actions.

Merci said...

Oh, and greetings to the paralegal! Hope to see her soon!

Evil Chicken said...

I’m heading out of New Jersey with the EC-5 this weekend and I just don’t think it’s fair to keep you in limbo over the question “Is It Legal?” So, I’m just going to spit it out. Yep, that’s right, I’m going to tell you what the paralegal told me. Yup, that’s right. So, are you ready for this?

…Yes, it’s legal.

The vast majority of people I ask this question of (and there have been quite a few since when the incident first happened) feel that this is dirty, wrong and, simply, NOT LEGAL. From what I’m told unless the person is directly paying you to vote for his or her candidate, it’s legal. Granted, this is teetering on the very edge of being completely illegal but it speaks volumes as to the ethics and character of the wonderful creatures that we so humbly call “politicians”.

Welcome to the machine, Gentle Reader; welcome to the machine.

Merci said...

It's STILL immoral and unethical!

Evil Chicken said...

Yes. You're right.

Mother Hen said...

Having your campaign canvassing the community and encouraging people to vote is a fairly common tactic in politics. Crossing the line occurs when you are coercing someone's vote by intimidation or violence or preventing them from getting to the poll booth.

What is more interesting to me in this scenario is it was my understanding that many of the canvassers appeared to be migrant workers which leads to a possible scenario that the contest winner could be an illegal alien who was paid in cash by a politician. I am in no way saying that did, in fact, occur. But it could happen...