It always has been against the law to purchase the vote of an enfranchised citizen on Election Day. But purloining an extra ballot here and there from a voter more interested in a buck than in who gets to ride in the victory parade is a practice as old as the republic itself.
Only it used to be that when someone tried to buy your vote, it was for a particular candidate. The point was to tip a race in favor of your guy. But the good old days and bad old ways seem to have faded into memory.
Is anyone surprised Election Day, like so many other days – Black Friday, anyone? – has devolved into another marketing scheme for countless businesses eager to trade democracy’s most cherished institution for a few cheap eats and maybe a free cup of Joe?
And it doesn’t actually matter who you voted for – as long as you can prove that you’ve pulled the lever, you’re in like Flynn.
Wear Your ‘I Voted’ Sticker
So for all you free citizens in this free country of ours, here’s a partial list of the freebies you can get today for being good little boy and girl voters:
For wearing your “I Voted” sticker:
- Einstein Bros. is offering a free bagel and a shmear
- Tijuana Flats will give you one free appetizer
- White Castle will give you a free, small order of Sweet Potato Waffle Fries (albeit with any purchase)
On the Border restaurants is making things a bit harder: you can get a free sopapilla, but you’ve got to download a coupon from their Facebook page and you have to purchase one or more entrees at their regular price. (That’s almost as complicated as a Florida ballot.)
Both California Tortilla and z-burger, the Washington, D.C. hamburger chain, will take your word for it. You don’t need to sport your “I voted” sticker as long as you can utter the correct incantation for the cashier’s benefit. (It’s “vote” for a free taco, and “zvote” for a free burger.)
Taco Bueno gave up on the canard that it cares whether you’ve exercised your franchise. Just download a coupon for a free, small guacamole and chips – no proof of voting required.
No Free Coffee at Starbucks, Just a Wristband
This year, Starbucks clamped down on the free cups of coffee it dispensed in 2008. Instead, it will be giving away “Indivisible” wristbands for the asking at all its stores nationwide.
And Zip Car, the international car sharing firm, will cut hourly reservations by 50 percent in all its U.S. locations, between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. today. That means you can drive to your polling place for half the price. (Although in some places, waiting in long lines may actually double, triple, or even quadruple the time you have the car! Now, that’s savvy marketing.)
Finally, here are two offers for denizens of the nation’s capital, where Election Day might be causing increased levels of tension and strain:
Hank’s Oyster Bar on Q Street is giving away two oysters and a shot of punch.
And Yoga Dhams throughout the D.C. region are offering free yoga classes to stressed out citizens who are no doubt weary not only from the voting itself but also from the months and months of incessant campaign advertising.
So get yourself a rental car to go vote, eat some Mexican food and then go do the Mountain Pose to clean out your chakras.
Is this a great country or what?
Bill “No Pay” Fay has lived a meager financial existence his entire life. He started writing/bragging about it seven years ago, helping birth Debt.org into existence as the site’s original “Frugal Man.” Prior to that, he spent more than 30 years covering college and professional sports, which are the fantasy worlds of finance. His work has been published by the Associated Press, New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Sports Illustrated and Sporting News, among others. His interest in sports has waned some, but his interest in never reaching for his wallet is as passionate as ever. Bill can be reached at email@example.com.