Voters Flock to the Polls in IV - Redskins Lose

Walking down Embarcadero del Mar this morning toward UCSB's Jewish Student Center - the voting precinct in the area - the street was filled with a steady flow of people going to and coming from the ballot box. There, as elsewhere in California, voters fill out paper ballots with a pen, feeding them into a secure box for counting later. Perhaps electronic voting machines are as secure as any other system, but after reading so much about electronic election fraud in the last two presidential elections, there is some measure of felt from being handed the good old-fashioned ballot form. Whether or not there's any merit to this notion is anybody's guess, but it certainly feels right, as if one can say with confidence, "That'll never happen here!"

Confidence in voting apparatus seemed not to matter today, though, and even as the clock ticked ever closer to noon, the crowd in the voting precinct did not show signs of thinning. Morning crowds tend to be higher in most areas - for example my father had to wait 45 minutes to cast his vote in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. - but most Isla Vistans are students, many of whom already voted via absentee ballot or had flexible schedules allowing midday and afternoon visits to the voting precinct. A quick canvass of a few of those who voted, or were about to vote, revealed a fairly high concentration of Obama supporters, and people who were not in favor of passing propositions 4 and 8 (for those who haven't done their props and measures homework, these are the ones dealing with abortion and gay marriage that have been receiving so much attention recently). This is no small surprise, as Isla Vista is one of Santa Barbara County's most liberal areas.

Although polls over the past few weeks have indicated that Senator Obama holds a lead over Senator McCain in the presidential race, there are other factors at play that, although difficult to explain or understand, have some sway because of accuracy. One of these electoral phenomena is known as the "Redskins Rule." According to this axiom, if the Washington Redskins - my mediocre hometown NFL football team - wins the Monday night home game the night before the election, then the incumbent party in the presidency will prevail again. If not, then the incumbent party loses.

The rules of this test seemed straightforward until the controversial election of 2000, when the electoral vote decided the outcome of the election. Since Al Gore took the popular election from George W. Bush that year, he was the "winner" in terms of the Redskins Rule, so when the 'Skins lost against Green Bay before the 2004 election, it made sense that Bush would win the election.

This year, the Redskins were trounced 23-6 by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Therefore, according to the stroke of fate delivered by the iron fist of the Iron City, the Republican party should be defeated in this election. Only time will tell, but - the refinement in rules made necessary by the dubious 2000 election not withstanding - this mysterious prophecy has stood the test of time since the Redskins came to Washington in 1937. The first election-deciding game was played the day before election day in 1940, when they defeated the then Pittsburgh Pirates 37-10.

According to many e-mails I've received from overseas friends concerning the election, the world waits with baited breath to see if the Redskins Rule does in fact prove true.

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