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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Election Day, Herman Cain, sexual harassment and the asteroid

Posted by on Tue, Nov 8, 2011 at 10:15 AM

At 8:40 this morning, I was Voter No. 39 at Rogers-Herr Middle School and, with the exception of the poll workers, the only soul in the gymnasium. Early voting turnout for this year's Durham general election was double that of the October primary (5,039 to 2,298) but still pitiful considering there are 133,452 registered voters in Durham County.

The percentages were similarly low in Wake County, even though the turnout is twice that of 2009—and this is an election with municipal races in 11 towns and cities, plus the District 3 school board runoff. Will Orange County redeem democracy in the Triangle? Let's hope so.

We'll blog the election as the day and evening wears on, with results online tonight and in tomorrow's paper.

A year from now we'll elect a president, and God willing and the creek don't rise, it won't be Herman Cain. Pundits have criticized the women who haven't made public their allegations that he sexually harassed them. Even if they've been freed of their confidentiality agreements, I can understand why they would be reluctant to stand before the TV cameras and divulge the gory details of the incident.

I've been sexually harassed on the job twice, both times by superiors: once at a fast-food restaurant and another time at a record store. (This does not count the time when I was a cops reporter and a police officer told me—in very colorful language—that he wanted to sleep with me before I got married.)

The fast-food boss fondled my breast; the record store dude pinched me on the ass and discussed the size of his penis. Within a week, I left the restaurant gig, having no aspirations to become a Subway manager. But I had to stick out the job at the record store. I was poor, jobs were scarce and I needed a paycheck. I learned to stand on the other side of the room and not get pinned behind the cash register.

But did I tell anyone at the time? No, because I knew it wouldn't have done any good. The bosses of the bosses were equally dismissive of women (the top dog at the restaurant often made comments about the size of women's breasts), and I'm sure they would have done nothing to the harassers. And both men were well-liked and respected in the community.

In other words, few people, if anyone, would have believed me. Instead, it would have been my fault, somehow: I was exaggerating, surely. Or they were just kidding. Or I was being too sensitive. So I can only imagine what it would be like to take on a presidential candidate and submit to the scrutiny that would entail.

Fear of a black asteroid: At 6:28 tonight, about an hour before the polls close, Asteroid 2005 YU55, a 1,300-foot-wide space rock largely composed of dark carbon, will come within 201,000 miles of the Earth traveling at speeds of 29,000 mph. It will miss us. Alas, there's always next time—in 2028 when another asteroid waves at Earth from 143,000 miles away.

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