from New Yorker
Cut That Waste!
by Ellis Parker Butler
In checking up the extravagances of our elected authorities the worst wastefulness I have found is in this matter of voting machines. The voting machine costs a lot of money, and it is used one day a year, and then stuck away for three hundred and sixty-four days (three hundred and sixty-five in leap years), doing nothing but standing around in vaseline, eating its head off. That is not good business.
In my modest little home I had a similar problem and I faced it squarely and conquered it. In my case it was the Christmas-tree holder.
"Here," I said to myself, "is this Christmas-tree holder that cost good money, and it is used but once a year, and the rest of the time it is not earning its keep. Something must be done about this."
I solved the problem by putting the Christmas-tree-holder in the front yard, running the garden hose to it, and sticking the nozzle up through the hole where the Christmas tree is placed in the merry Yuletide, thus making it a fountain. I was thus able to use the Christmas-tree holder three hundred and sixty-five days a year (three hundred and sixty-six days in leap years) and have nice green grass in the summer and a skating rink in winter. It only takes a little brains to solve these seemingly difficult problems.
The voting-machine problem is rather more difficult because a voting machine does not make a good fountain. For a while I did consider the possibility of putting spigots in the voting machines and using them for drinking fountains, with a tin cup chained to each spigot, but I gave up that idea because a plumber would have to be used for the plumbing, and the chances were
that when the time came to unplumb the voting machines the plumber might be on another job and not get the voting machines unplumbed, and the voters would look silly just turning the spigots on and off.
The plan I finally decided was the best was to use the voting machines as voting machines on Election Day, and then rent them to hotels and restaurants for the other days of the year. The hotel -- or restaurant -- would place the voting machine at the checker's window, where the food is passed out to the waiter, and the voting machines would be used to check the food as it was passed to the waiter. The tablet that said "For Governor, Franklin D. Roosevelt," would be removed and in its place would be put a tablet that said "Consomme." Thus over each little handle you push down when voting would be placed the name of one item of the menu. Instead of "For District Attorney, Harley J. Hooper" -- or whatever his name might be -- would be placed "Filet of Sole Mercier," and where "For Alderman, Herman S. Schmidt" would be, "Corned Beef and Cabbage."
Every time a corned-beef-and-cabbage order was passed out to the waiter, the checker would press down the proper handle, and it the end of the day he would merely look at the recorded total and find it said "138 Corned Beef and Cabbage", and "56 Filet of Sole Mercier" and "247 Vegetable Soup" and so on, and this would save him a lot of time.
Some care would have to be taken, when the time came to take the voting machines back to the election precincts, to remove the little tablets and replace them with the candidates' names, because it would be annoying to the voters to discover that they had elected boiled ham and spinach President of the Board of Aldermen and to find that their next mayor was to be a French omelette. The same care would have to be taken to remove the names of the candidates I when the machines went back to the hotels and restaurants, because some of the patrons might object to being served an alderman from the Ninth Ward on the half-shell when they had ordered oysters. Quite frankly, the average alderman on the half-shell is not as attractive as "Venus Rising from the Sea," and he would look silly dipped in tomato-cocktail sauce.