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While theaters have recently been filled with many films that promise to entertain, few promise to educate, and even fewer do so in the thought-provoking way that Gus Van Sant’s new movie, Milk, does.

Milk tells the story of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California.

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The film follows Milk’s life from from the moment he decided he wanted to be a politician, to the moment he finally won a seat a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors . Milk  ran unsuccessfully for political office on three separate occasions; with each attempt, he gained more and more support. Milk, however, had  short-lived political career. Dan White, a fellow San Francisco supervisor, shot and killed Mayor George Moscone and Harvey Milk  on November 27, 1978.

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While each person has his or her own views on the sensitive issue of homosexuality, the film’s release could not have come at a more appropriate time. When Proposition 8 passed at the end of last year, many felt Californians had taken a huge step back in the fight for equality. Although that may very well be the case, Milk puts a face to the fight for gay rights. Harvey Milk’s touching and motivating story is guaranteed make you think a little before treating anyone poorly.

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A few weeks back, I posted an easy three-step process to become a vote-by-mail voter in the November 4 election, written especially for all you college kids. Have you done it yet? No? Well, you have only seven more days before the October 20th deadline passes and it’s too late.  So get on that.

Here’s the process again in case you’re a lazy dog:

  1. Fill out a short application to receive vote-by-mail status for this election.
  2. Mail the application to your county elections office.
  3. Start reading up on this year’s propositions.

Frequent Reasons For Not Voting Shot Down

pew pew pew

pew pew pew

Vote-by-mail ballots aren’t counted unless there’s a tie.

False.  Vote-by-mail ballots are, in fact, counted first.

I’m cynical and jaded about how my vote won’t affect the presidential election because the electoral college system means that all of California’s votes will go to Obama anyway.

I concede that this is probably true.  Rather than feed you some idealistic fodder about how it’s the principle of exercising your democratic rights that matters, I will give you a more pragmatic reason to vote: the most contentious ground in this election, and the one that your vote will certainly affect, is state propositions.

State propositions are abstruse and don’t affect me because I’m not really a taxpayer.

Do you care about a high speed rail system spanning across the state?  Do you care about the ethics of the treatment of farm animals?  Do you care about abortion for minors?  Do you care about whether same-sex marriages will continue to be recognized?

Yeah, I know you do.  If you are capable of pressing Ctrl+P, you can spell your name, and you can stick a stamp on an envelope, you can vote.

GOOD is having a bumper sticker design contest themed around voting.  Check out some of my favorite submissions, both visually and content-wise, for inspiration:

by Dan Swoboda, for the 2006 election

by Dan Swoboda, for the 2006 election contest

by Steven Blumenthal, for the 2006 election contest

by Steven Blumenthal, for the 2006 election contest

by Amy Chen

by Amy Chen

by Ben Murphy

by Ben Murphy

by Jim Ward

by Jim Ward

To paraphrase the words of one presidential candidate who is not my BFF, “See you at the election, bitches.”

Today is brought to you by the number 42.

Why is 42 so important today?  Sure, it’s the answer to life, the universe, and everything.  But I bet you didn’t know that 42 is also the number of days until the 2008 General Election.

Depending on your age, this may be the first presidential election in which you are eligible to vote, and you are of course doing your civic duty by doing everything a young voter does to be as educated as possible about the issues at hand.  You’ve watched The Daily Show’s coverage of Indecision 2008.  You’ve seen the YouTube You Choose candidate debates.  You keep up with projections on fivethirtyeight.  You’ve observed the venerated and unbiased political arena that is Digg.  You’ve become a member of the Facebook group of the candidate you most support.

The Best F***ing News Team Ever

The Best F***ing News Team Ever

In all seriousness, though, you might be forgetting something important.  You’re probably going to college outside of the county in which you registered to vote.  Have you registered to be a vote-by-mail voter in November’s General Election?

Fear not.  I have collected all of the necessary URLs for you to strip away the last of your excuses not to vote in three easy steps.  If you’re not a California resident, you’ll need to look up the equivalent forms for your state.

  1. Fill out a very short application to recieve vote-by-mail voter status for this election. You can also check a box to become a permanent vote-by-mail voter (voter-by-mail?), but if your college address keeps changing, I’d advise against it.
  2. Mail the application to your county elections office.
  3. Start reading up on this year’s propositions. You’ll get an official voter information guide in the mail as well.  Think you don’t care about state propositions?  Think again.  Do you care about a high speed rail system spanning across the state?  Do you care about the treatment of farm animals?  Do you care about abortion for minors?  Do you care about whether same-sex marriages will continue to be recognized?

If you’re not registered to vote, but you are a United States citizen who will be at least 18 years old on November 4, 2008, and you are not a felon or legally mentally incompetent, shame on you!  You can’t let all of the money both campaigns have spent on influencing our highly prized and elusive 18-25 demographic go to waste.  Besides, there are hungry kids in Africa who wish they had your ballot to cast.  Fill out a registration form online here.  They really can’t make it any easier for you people.

Registered to vote?  Submitted vote-by-mail status?  Awesome.  We now interrupt this program to bring you a nonpartisan message from Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton.

Click to see the SNL Palin/Hillary Open from SNL last week.

"I believe that diplomacy should be the cornerstone of any foreign policy." "And I can see Russia from my house!"