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Jeffrey Shaffer Headshot

Urban Voting Legends

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You wouldn't believe the weird stuff that happened on election day in 2004. Totally crazy things were going on all over the country. All I can tell you is what I've heard on the street. Or maybe I overheard someone else hearing it. But let's not argue about who said what, where, or when. Veracity isn't the crucial factor here. The real value of urban legends is the thrill we get from passing them on to the next person.

The Choking Doberman

This guy came home from work somewhere in Montana, and it was late so the polls were all closed, and when he opened the front door his pet Doberman was on the floor rolling around and gagging and, like, really in trouble. So the guy rushes it to the vet and the vet said to leave the dog overnight for tests, so the guy went home. And while he was in the kitchen making dinner the phone rang and when he picked it up the vet was on the line and he said, "Get out of the house. Don't ask any questions. Get out right now!"

So the guy runs outside and a second later this police car comes screaming up the street with the lights flashing but no siren, and these two cops jump out and say "Stay here! We're going inside!" And then they pull out their guns and run inside, and a few minutes later they come out and they're leading this big dude with his hands cuffed behind his back.

And after the cops put the dude in the car, one of them looks at the homeowner guy and says, "Your vet called us. It turned out your dog had a big wad of paper caught in his throat, and when the vet pulled it out he realized they were ballots from the election! So he knew the dog must have gotten them from somebody who was already inside your house!"

And it turned out the dude they arrested had been hiding in a closet with, like, twenty-thousand stolen ballots that were marked for Conrad Burns! It was a big enough number to have changed the results, but by then it was too late to count them, so that's why Burns lost. I know this really happened because the guy who owned the dog is the uncle of my girlfriend┬╣s older sister's best friend from college.

The Elevator Encounter

There was this old lady staying at a hotel in Chicago, and on election day she gets into the elevator and there's nobody else in it. So at the next floor the elevator stops, and when the doors open this guy steps in, and he's got a big dog on a leash, and the lady is really nervous because the guy looks intimidating, and then he says, "Lady, sit!" So the old lady sits down immediately, and she's sitting there trembling with fear, and then the guy starts laughing and then she realizes he was talking to the dog.

So later that night the lady is having dinner with some friends in the hotel dining room and there's a big election party going on, and when the lady asks for the check the waiter says, "Oh madam, that's been taken care of already by that man over there." And he points across the room to another table, and she sees the guy from the elevator waving at her, and she turns to her friends and points at the guy and says, "There's the man who scared me in the elevator today!" And her friends look over at the guy and one of them says, "That's Barack Obama, our new senator!" Three different people have told me about this, and they all say it exactly the same way, so they can't all be lying.

The Babysitter

This girl was babysitting two kids on election night somewhere in Ohio, and she had put the kids to bed upstairs and then she went back downstairs to watch the results on TV, and after about an hour the phone rang. And this deep voice said, "You better check and see if the kids voted!" And she got all freaked out and hung up, and then the same thing happened again. This phone rang and there was the deep voice again, and it said, "Check to see if the kids voted!"

So this girl is like in a total panic, and she decides to call the police, and the police tell her they're going to put a tap on the line, and she needs to sit there and wait and see if the guy calls back. And he does! She picks up the phone, and this time the voice is like shouting at her -- "You gotta check and see if the kids voted!" And she just sits there holding the phone, and then another voice comes on the line and it's a cop and he says, "Stay right where you are! Don't go upstairs! The calls are coming from inside the house!" And a few minutes she hears footsteps on the front porch and then about five cops come bursting through the door and run upstairs.

And when they get upstairs they find this escaped lunatic guy in the kids' bedroom, and he's got like 20 electronic voting machines that he's robbed from polling places earlier in the day, and they're all piled on the bed so the two kids have suffocated, and he was trying to lure the babysitter upstairs, and when the girl found out what happened she went totally insane and she'll never be able to vote again, ever.

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That's it for now. Too many political rumors at one time can cause emotional trauma. Someday I'll tell you about the maniac with a hook for a hand who was hiding in the back seat of Al Gore's hybrid car. And to all the skeptics who read this and snicker with disdain, let me just remind you of a venerable old saying that never goes out of date: If enough people believe something, it must be true.

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