Copyright© 2004, 2007 by Roxanne L. Green
I've been voting by absentee ballot for about fifteen years.
The last time I voted in person, I saw a woman turned away for wearing a political T-shirt. I doubt she gave any thought to doffing her shirt and voting in her bra -- some would say she was underqualified, or too old -- but I sure thought of it. Not for myself, but as a story idea. Brief notes on the idea have been sitting on my hard drive, the story unwritten, since I got back from the polls, way back then.
I saw a newspaper article about Debbie Dupeire, a woman who was not allowed to vote, because she was wearing a Bush-Cheney '04 T-shirt, in violation of Louisiana election law, which bans the display of candidates' names within 500 feet of a polling place. Debbie took off her T-shirt, and voted in her bra.
Thank you Debbie. This story is not about Debbie, I hasten to add. I admire her for doing what she did, even though I personally think she was voting on the wrong side. Nevertheless, her story was an inspiration to this first draft.
Reposting or Internet Archiving prohibited. All rights reserved by the author. Posted by the author on storiesonline.net, 2-28-07. Your personal copy is ok, but reposting or Internet archiving without the author's express written permission is prohibited.
It was chilly in the polling station. Suzi planned to get there hours earlier, when it was warmer, but she was running very late. She was a 19-year old bank teller in training, her first job since graduating from high school. Today was day her off, from both the bank and from the junior college, where Suzi was taking an early childhood education class. Her errands had taken much too long.
This was the first election since she turned eighteen. Suzi took her first time voting very seriously. She was so proud to be voting for her candidate for mayor. He was also her minister. He was running on a morality platform, a major plank of which was opposing topless entertainment, especially Topless Terri's Tavern, which had opened a few months earlier, down the block and across the street from the church.
Suzi was wearing a T-shirt, with a photo of her minister picketing the tavern.
Suzi got into line just a few minutes before the polls closed. By 8 P.M., she was in the middle of a very long line. A poll worker was walking towards the end of the line, where she would stand, to turn away latecomers. On the way to the back of the line, the poll worker told Suzi she couldn't wear that shirt in line, as it violated the electioneering provisions of state law.
If she left to change shirts, she wouldn't be allowed back in line, as her return would be after the polls closed. Her desire to vote for this most moral of all candidates was so strong that -- against her better judgment -- she stripped off the offending shirt. She was wearing a very sexy white lace bra.
She wasn't even allowed to her hold her shirt, because she could hold it so the name was visible, so it was confiscated. She would get it back after she voted. She was embarrassed beyond repair, in her skimpy bra, nipples on high beam because of the cold, with some of her new neighbors in line. She imagined somebody calling the police, and charging her with indecent exposure. But she absolutely had to vote! That was her moral calling. There were other names on the ballot, and many ballot measures, but the mayoralty election was even more important than the presidential election to Suzi. This community was where she lived, and she knew no woman could ever be safe on the streets, if there was a topless bar in town, arousing the men to unspeakable, unthinkable acts. The thought that she was doing God's work overcame her embarrassment at standing in line half-naked.
The line seemed to take forever, her fears and anxiety getting worse and worse, but as men talked with her, and flirted with her, she found it strangely arousing. Bending over to sign in, she knew what the poll worker was staring at. She felt a flush come over her face and chest. Somebody teased her, asking if she was blushing all over.
By the time she was in the privacy of the voting booth, Suzi was so turned on her hands found themselves busy with her body, before she could vote. She wasn't quite as silent as she thought she was, and many of those who already voted remained in the polling station, to see her walk out.
When she finally came out of the booth. many people were smiling at her, but she did see some angry stares too, when she turned in her ballot. Suzi asked for her shirt, but they 'couldn't find it.' She walked outside, and jogged half a block to her car. She was glad Daylight Savings Time had ended, because it was dark, not twilight. As she drove home to her new apartment, she thought about what had happened. She was literally shaking as she walked through the well-lighted parking lot, past the party room where there was a potluck dinner, where residents were watching the election results on TV.