Say hello to my little friend

Voting! A story about me going to court in a t-shirt and jeans. And, 7 other things worth your time.

A few years ago, not long after I’d moved to New Jersey to be with my then-very-soon-to-be wife (she of the “no hard feelings” email I mentioned yesterday), I went to vote for the first time in the Garden State.

Among the things I’d done when I arrived from DC was to turn in my Taxation Without Representation license plates and get a New Jersey driver’s license. And, while I was at the DMV, I’d registered to vote.

But then, when I was literally first in line on election day, the city had no record. I suppose I could have cast a provisional ballot.

“Nah. Let’s fight,” I thought to myself.

So, I skipped work and headed to the state Superior Court in Jersey City, NJ to file an emergency pro se motion asking for:

(a) a judge’s legal finding that I had, in fact, been registered to vote, and

(b) a court order that I be allowed to cast a “true” ballot, rather than a provisional ballot.

I should stop right here and acknowledge three things that made this possible.

  • First, I’m a (mostly non-practicing) lawyer. It wasn’t that big a deal for me to go to court — even in a brand-new state.

  • I worked for myself. So I didn’t have to convince a boss to let me take this time away from more revenue-oriented endeavors to spend time defending democracy.

  • I can be a bit of a pit bull, and that’s putting it nicely, when people challenge me like this. And let’s be honest, I knew even as I did it that it would make a good story I’d be telling for years afterward.

It took a couple of hours to get in front of the duty judge, and by then I was loaded for bear. I was surprised that the state of New Jersey even bothered to assign a deputy assistant attorney general to argue against me.

No worries, I cleaned his clock. Plus I enjoyed that while he had to wear a suit, I was still dressed in the t-shirt and jeans I’d happened to throw on that morning.

Soon afterward, I had my very own “Order Permitting the Voter to Cast a Ballot on the Voting Machine.” (If I have any regrets at all about this story, it’s that I should have pushed for a more artful way to articulate the order. Oh well.)

I admit, my vote had zero effect on the outcome of the mayoral election in Jersey City, but that wasn’t the point. I went back to the polling place and gave it to the same worker who had told me I couldn’t vote before.

And, while I said it gently, and he laughed with me, I even got to quote Al Pacino in Scarface when I showed him the judge’s order: “Say hello to my little friend.”

For all my joking and cynicism, I think the right to vote is sacred. Too many people gave their lives to secure it. And without it, democratic society loses its legitimacy.

As it turns today is National Voter Registration Day. So, while I usually share a version of my “went to court to vote” story on my personal social media feeds on Voting Day itself, I think I’ll take today for a hook.

7 other things worth your time

  • China’s military revealed some propaganda videos, and eagle-eyed viewers noticed that they spliced clips from movies like The Rock, The Hurt Locker, and even Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen into the spots. (France 24)

  • US prosecutors claim six people bribed corrupt Amazon insiders to rig the the web giant's Marketplace in their favor and leak terabytes of data including some search algorithms. (The Register)

  • Jupiter’s big red spot is shriking. Scientists think it’s a storm that’s been active for about 350 years. (Business Insider)

  • The rule of awkward silence. (

  • Confusion at the CDC. which revealed new guidance saying coronavirus can spread more easily in the air, only to rescinded it all within hours. (WSJ, $)

  • Justice Ginsburg will be the first woman ever to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol. (CNN)

  • Two U.S. soldiers, just a week into basic training, stopped the attempted suicide of a third solider in their unit. They were promoted before even graduating from basic as a result. (Army Times)

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