This Month in State Politics: Debate 911 Edition

An appreciation of the weird things that happened in government this September

It's the end of September, which means it's time for another look at all the minor or mysterious things that happened in state politics this month.

It's 10 o’clock. Do you know where your election is?

Shortly before the first presidential debate began on Monday evening, several police departments across the country decided to join everyone else in America making bad jokes about what was about to transpire.

An officer later told ATTN, “As far as I am aware, there were no calls to dispatch for debate-related issues.” It wouldn't be completely bizarre if they had gotten a call or two, though. Back in February, when America had yet to hear Donald Trump discuss his dick on live television, the police in Bozeman, Montana, chronicled this 911 call: “A woman called police to report hearing a bell ringing in her house. An officer arrived and was escorted to the area of the suspicious bell ringing. The woman was informed the noise was from the debate bell, which was on her TV.”

“The election was inside the house all along!” sounds like the worst possible horror movie spoiler.

Sticker shock

We've already discussed how campaign sign-stealing is rampant before an election. In Delaware, congressional candidate Scott Walker — no, not that one — has “racked up 17 violations, more than three times more than the closest politician offender,” per the News Journal. One of his fines came from the time he decided to just nail his name to a tree on someone's farm, which made the owner very mad. “Didn't ask,” she told Delaware 105.9. “Didn't ask if he could put it there; just nailed it to a beautiful tree, an old tree, and I think it's rude and disrespectful and I want Mr. whoever Walker for Congress is to come and remove it.” Because his campaign lacks funds, however, Walker usually just stands at intersections with his signs while pumping his fist at cars.

Trump supporters who have seen their signs get stolen repeatedly have had to get creative. One person in Des Moines started taping his signs to a tree in his front yard — 40 feet in the air, just above the raccoon hole. In Indiana, a man just mowed a huge Trump sign into the grass itself.

Thefts aren't limited to signs, either. There are a near-infinite number of ways to get in trouble with the law when it comes to election merchandising. In North Carolina, a Republican state representative's husband got in trouble for taking her opponent's sticker off the door of a pub and replacing it with one with her name on it. The AP later reported that “Lew Martin said Thursday he'd made the switch on the door after taking a frustrating work-related phone call outside the restaurant. ‘I'm a bonehead,’ [he] told WRAL-TV. He added that he was really embarrassed and not a very good example: ‘Everyone who knows me knows I'm just kind of a passionate guy, so I took the sticker off, put the other sticker on.’”

This month in random facts you didn’t know you wanted to know

The Rapid City Journal recently asked the question, “How many times have South Dakotans elected a dead person?” The answer: More than once!

Important legislation about regulating animal farts and animal funerals

California has more dairy cows than any other state in the country, which inevitably means that it is home to an inordinate amount of cow flatulence. Earlier this month, the state legislature passed a bill that aims to regulate pollutants like methane — i.e., the less amusing name for one of the byproducts of bovine wind-breaking — as a way of fighting climate change.

In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo just signed legislation so it is no longer illegal to be buried with your pet. The new law does not apply to religious cemeteries, and the pets have to be cremated. Here is the inevitable local news segment asking people walking dogs on the Upper West Side for their opinions on this very important topic.

Voting is here!

At least in a couple of states that do it really early.

And here is the patron saint of early voting:

To secede or not to secede? That is always the question in Texas.

A recent Public Policy Polling survey showed that 37 percent of Trump supporters want to secede from the rest of the country. If Clinton is elected in November, however, that number jumps to 61 percent. The Oklahoman reports that “One in four Oklahoma voters would vote to secede from the Union if Clinton were elected president.” The story revealing these findings rebrands this potential secession as an “Oklahexit,” a word that we should all forget ever existed by the time we reach the end of this sentence.

Never tweet or text: Your local government edition

Earlier this week, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin — who said a few weeks ago that blood may be shed if Clinton wins the presidency — sent a text to Attorney General Andy Beshear. It wasn't very nice. “I would strongly suggest,” it read, “that you get your house in order. Your office is becoming an increasing embarrassment to the Commonwealth.” In North Dakota, a spokesperson for the Department of Health resigned after accidentally posting her debate tweets on the agency's official Twitter account. They included gems like, “Grow a pair Lester.”

Selfie sticks to polling place

A federal court ruled that New Hampshire's ballot selfie ban was unconstitutional, and that snapping a picture of your voting choices equals freedom of speech. Snapchat filed an amicus brief in support of the selfie, noting that “The ballot selfie may be a new method of expression, but it’s an expression as old as the Republic itself.”

Trumped-up trickle-down politics

Dennis Hof is a longshot candidate for state representative in Nevada. According to the AP, the wealthy brothel owner, who tweets pornographic photos to his 20,000 followers, is adopting a more sanitized persona for his campaign. He doesn't foresee bringing prostitutes with him on the campaign trail, and the biography on his website focuses on his early ventures as a gas station proprietor before directing readers to buy his book, The Art of the Pimp. He has been on an HBO reality TV series. He told Quartz earlier this month that “You have to believe in your product. If you don’t believe in your product you can’t sell it ... [The customers] will only pay you what you think you’re worth.”

Amish voters for Trump

Amish PAC is the first super PAC geared toward the tens of thousands of Amish people living in Pennsylvania and Ohio, two swing states. This bloc of Americans usually ignores the election, but Amish PAC is determined to “beat Hillary Clinton in 2016 by turning out a deeply conservative and often forgotten block of voters.” Bush, however, got more than 1,000 votes from Amish voters in Ohio in 2004 — maybe not a lot of votes in the big scheme of things, but more than most candidates get (and parties will take any votes they can get in swing states). Those numbers make Republicans ever hopeful that they could turn out this demographic again — even for a candidate who is neither compassionate nor conservative. The PAC's outreach thus far has mostly consisted of sticking giant billboards with “VOTE TRUMP” and a buggy with an “I Voted” sticker on it around Amish Country. Al Jazeera talked to a few people in Lancaster County this month, and none of them seemed too fond of Clinton. “Well, we don't vote,” one woman said, “but we try to pray about it, for the right man, and I think everybody thinks, ‘not a woman!’”