This comic was released eleven days before the United States midterm elections on Tuesday, November 6, 2018 and even the header text at the top of the xkcd page had changed a few days before by showing a link to vote.org to help US citizens to register and finding their polling places. Randall uses a neutral way to encourage people to use the right to rule their governmental representatives.
This comic shows a car with a bumper sticker, which is generally a thin rectangle piece of plastic with a message on one side and adhesive on the other side in order to stick to a car. This allows the owner of the car to display a message they want to present to whoever is driving behind them or in their vicinity. Bumper stickers are usually used to express a viewpoint, whether personal or political, held by the owner or driver of the car. This comic makes literal the ones that include or allude to the personal pronoun "I" and its variations, i.e. first person singular statements. Of course the intent is that "I" is referring to the person who put the bumper sticker on the car, but as the sticker is attached to the car the more literal interpretation is that "I" is referring to the car. So the humor is derived by the notion that the car itself is making these statements. (On an even more meta level, the comic could be interpreted as saying that the person who wrote the words in the comic, i.e. Randall, is saying that he is a car.)
The bumper sticker on the car in the comic is a variation of a sticker used to both encourage people to vote, as well as express their political position: "I'm a ___, and I vote" (where the blank is traditionally filled in with "Union Worker", "Catholic", "Senior Citizen", "Gun Owner" or some other demographic or organizational membership). However here it is attributed to an automobile which is not capable of voting.
The comic could be an indirect reference to the growing "intelligence" of self-driving cars, such that one day they might have the intellect to communicate, vote, and engage in other self-motivated activities. See ‘Sally’ by Isaac Asimov. It may also relate to security concerns around increasing use of electronic voting mechanisms - the joke being that the car is able to abuse the interfaces to such systems either to vote on behalf of its owner or as its own entity. Though voting might not be one's biggest concern if their "intelligent" car got dragged into a bot net...
The title text seems to be another typical message on a bumper sticker, saying that the driver is a "Proud Parent Of An Honor Student". However, this sticker is a bit longer, since it continues to state that "the person driving me is proud, too". Thus once again it is the car who is the proud parent. And thus maybe it is a car that is the honor student? Another thought is that this may be a reference to the 1965-66 TV sitcom My Mother The Car.
- [The bottom right rear end of a car is shown with a bumper sticker next to the unreadable license plate.]
- I'm a car
- and I vote
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Is that a Chevy Volt? --184.108.40.206 04:30, 26 October 2018 (UTC)
- Using google image search I could find various different taillight configurations on Chevrolet Volt's, but non where the lights extend to the trunk, and also downward on the site of the trunk. They are either above each other, or extending to the trunk. The one in the comic has both.--Lupo (talk) 07:51, 26 October 2018 (UTC)
- Having owned a first-generation Volt, it sure looks like it to me. No, the details aren't perfect, but the taper of the lights seems to strongly suggest a first-gen Volt. ~ BestComicEver (talk) 14:04, 31 October 2018 (UTC)
- I currently own a first-gen Volt, and I instantly thought, "Hey, Randall drew my car!" I am not that into cars, but I still think it's pretty recognizable as a Volt. 220.127.116.11 16:14, 3 November 2018 (UTC)
Cars are getting more intelligent and the voters seem to get dumber. This comic states that some cars are more intelligent than the average voters. 18.104.22.168 06:48, 26 October 2018 (UTC)
No matter how smart the car is it would need to meet eligibility requirements to vote. Cars are typically registered in a jurisdiction but are generally not recognized as citizens or residents for voting purposes. Only some cars meet the age requirements, e.g. in the United States the median age of an automobile was 11.4 years in 2014 while a voter must be at least 18 years of age to vote in US Federal elections. As for the title text, cars are generally incapable of reproduction , ineligible for adoption , and generally do not attend school , making this scenario multiply implausible ChronoCronut (talk) 09:00, 26 October 2018 (UTC)
- "Only some cars meet the age requirements" Right, but they are very mature for their age. xD 22.214.171.124 11:35, 26 October 2018 (UTC)
- It's time to start the car suffrage movement! -boB (talk) 13:13, 26 October 2018 (UTC)
"The entire comic seems to be related to self-driving cars, which has been a recurring subject on xkcd. As they first begins to drive by themselves, the next step is voting and later getting car babies that can grow up and become honor students." Actually, I think that this comic is about bumper stickers on cars. Of course people put bumper stickers on their cars to make a statement about themselves, but what if the bumper stickers were actually a statement by the car, not the person driving it. That's another common theme. Andyd273 (talk) 12:26, 26 October 2018 (UTC)
- I agree the comic is about bumper stickers which use "first person" wording taken literally as being the cars themselves talking. However as we hear and see more about self driving cars, and get closer to mythical artificial intelligence, the day may come when this joke about literality could cease to be a joke. -boB (talk) 14:25, 26 October 2018 (UTC)
If this car made one of the questionable votes against network neutrality? -- Gunterkoenigsmann (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
The first thing that jumped to my mind was that it also mixed in the security issues arising due to the "Internet of Things" problems. Admittedly, most IoT devices are used in DoS attacks and are generally not used as general purpose hacking jump boxes, but I see no reason that cellular network equipped cars could not be hacked and used as a source for voting in digital elections. Adrian Colyer has a great synopsis of two vehicle papers on his blog: https://blog.acolyer.org/2015/12/02/carshark/ and https://blog.acolyer.org/2015/12/03/fast-and-vulnerable/ . Tovodeverett (talk) 13:35, 26 October 2018 (UTC)
- But that would still be someone (a human) voting, albeit using the car as a vehicle [sic] for that vote. So the bumper sticker isn't being literal in this case, the car itself didn't vote, and so the joke doesn't work. -boB (talk) 18:22, 26 October 2018 (UTC)
I put a citation needed tag in as a joke, and someone actually found a source for it. 126.96.36.199 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
- I guessed that was what happened. I wonder how many other obvious statements have citations that someone could find? GreatWyrmGold (talk) 00:10, 27 October 2018 (UTC)
I wonder if it's less common to see these pointing out a party affiliation as in "I'm a Democrat" or "I'm a Republican" and more common to instead see them as showing membership in a special interest group like in "I'm a Mom" or "I'm a union worker" or likewise. Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 02:40, 27 October 2018 (UTC)
Now deleted thing about the bomber's vehicle
Someone added text suggesting this comic was inspired by the stickers on the bomber's vehicle. Then someone else deleted that text because the comic had been posted before the bomber was arrested so Randall could not have known about the bomber's vehicle.
Does that mean it was a coincidence?
Or could the bomber have seen the comic and been inspired by it to put the stickers on the vehicle?
(The deleted text was "Possibly Randall is ironically referring to the car of the suspect in the pipe bomb case. His whole van is covered with pro-Trump, anti-Democrat and anti-liberal stickers. Or it's just particularly bad timing...")
188.8.131.52 05:42, 29 October 2018 (UTC)
Perhaps it is related to the ongoing push for "motor voter" laws encouraging (or mandating) local DMV offices to register persons to vote at the same time they apply for or renew a driver's license? 184.108.40.206 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)