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THE VOTING DEAD: Getting out the local vote

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Mark Basquill comments on zombie voters as encore profiles Wilmington City Council candidates and locals running for Senate at Don’t forget to vote Nov. 7!

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I smiled at the “Caylan McKay for Wilmington City Council” sign downtown and again at the Harper Peterson sign. “Make new friends but keep the old,” the song goes.

I continued to 21 N. Front Street, entered the creaky elevator. A pale, nearly transparent figure wearing a tattered business suit and tapping on his phone appeared as if from nowhere.

“Pretty warm for October. Crisp, not as humid as it’s been,” I said as the elevator door closed. “This is a cool building. Dennis Hopper owned it. But this elevator’s sketchy. Did you take advantage of early voting?”

“Grrrr,” grumbled the zombie-like apparition.

“If you didn’t vote, you might not get a chance. Could be Christmas before this elevator moves,” I said.

“You’re one of those, aren’t you?” Zombie-man said. “You talk to people!”

“Yep,” I said. “Makes life a little less solitary, brutish and short. I talk to people in elevators, on the street, on trains, planes, buses. My kids hate it. I’ll talk to anyone. I figure we all have a tendency to live and breathe within our bias bubbles, make assumptions about people without much evidence. Actual human interaction helps me burst my little bias bubbles.”

“Save your breath. I’m a real zombie.” He continued with his gadget.

“Do you know Anna Gamel?” I asked. “She’s an energetic, talented local actress. I think she likes this time of year and the whole zombie thing.”

“Aaahhh!” he grumbled. “I’m not human! I live here.”

“In this elevator?” I took a step to the left. “It’s astounding. Time is fleeting. Madness takes its toll.”

“Not that! Please, not that! Every emerging theatre group since 1977 feels obligated to produce ‘Rocky Horror’ in this venue. Why? Why? Why?” He broke, “Can’t you let me finish my comment?”

“Ohh!” I said. “You’re a zombie troll! Making irrelevant incendiary comments on posts.”

“I’m trying to make my voice heard and make the world a better place,” he said most sincerely.

“Trolling and tweeting and social media?” I sighed. “Maybe eventually these tools will help make things better. Right now we haven’t evolved enough to understand how to transform the billions and billions of gigawatts of information technology into enough wisdom to light a 60-watt bulb.

The Internet has only been open to the public for a little over 21 years. If it was a kid, it might be graduating UNCW and would barely be allowed to buy a beer. Facebook is only 13 years old, an ornery, immature teen. That’s a pretty accurate description of the way most of us seem to use it.”

I hopped to the right.

“If you really want to make your voice heard and maybe make our community a little better, vote!”
“Aaahhh!” he moaned. “Vote?”

“So!” I said. “You really are a zombie!”

“I am the undead.”

“Were you a protest non-vote last November?”

Zombie-man dropped his head.

“Tell me you weren’t one of those folks that hated Hillary, figured Bernie and Trump were pretty much the same, and helped vote this POTUS in? Would you prefer a kale smoothie? Or mainlining heroin laced with melanoma? They’re pretty much the same. And neither one is a Happy Meal, right?”

“I haven’t voted in a presidential election since Nixon,” he admitted.

“And?” I probed.

“I’ve never voted in a primary, mid-term or local election.”

“Truly undead,” I said.

Zombie-man sighed the kind of sigh only old, tortured non-voting souls sigh.

“Vote young,” I suggested. “Caylan McKay for city council, for one good option. Young. Registered independent. Locally grown and looking to serve the community that helped raise him. It’s fascinating we say we distrust the government in general, and we re-elect the old incumbents at a truly astounding rate.”

We stood staring at the elevator door. I reached out and pushed the button for Level 5. “I know it’s been a while, but you have to push the button. Just like voting.”

Read interviews with Wilmington City Council candidates and locals running for Senate at And don’t forget to vote Nov. 7!

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