Remember when i said that i couldn’t vote in LA? I filed a complaint with the city about my inability to vote. I then learned that a bunch of my friends were in a similar position so i was unbelievably pissed. Luckily, i called up the nice San Francisco people and got them to emergency me an absentee and was all prepared to vote in SF. Then, late last nite, i got a call from some government official telling me that she had heard about my problem and had looked into it. She told me that i was now registered in LA and should have no problem voting. I asked if an absentee ballot was going to be rushed my way (since i’m in DC next Tuesday). She said that they had no record of me filing permanent absentee and that i had to remember to check the box. I said that i knew this and had done so on all three of my registration forms. She told me to hold on and i heard muttering and shuffling of papers in the background. I was then informed that she had my application right there and i had indeed checked permanent absentee and that she was extremely sorry. She explained that i couldn’t get an absentee ballot on time but that i could go to Culver City City Hall and vote touchscreen. She gave me detailed information and told me to call her back directly if i ran into any problem. I asked her if i could have my friends call her and she said yes.
I immediately called my friends and told them to contact her. K did so right away – i had pressured her into registering (“for her own good”) and so, when she finally decided to register, she wasn’t pleased that she never got anything back once she did. She called up the lady this morning who immediately recognized my name and took care of K, making sure she too could vote. While this is all fine and well (and i’m glad that i can vote and i’m glad that K can vote), i’m not too thrilled that there seems to be many mistakes in the registration process. How many people aren’t registered because of such oopses? Why do we even have to register? Why can’t we automatically be registered simply by being citizens? ::grumble:: And we wonder why people don’t vote.
Anyhow, i went to City Hall to vote. At first, i was pretty humored. There were people of all ages and backgrounds standing on line to do their civic duty. When i got to the front, i asked if i could use a paper ballot; they looked at me like i was the devil and told me that this was a touchscreen only station. I decided i should suck it up and figure out how this touchscreen shit works so i didn’t argue. But OMG do i not feel secure about my vote. I went in and there was a big Diebold machine laughing at me. I was given a card that i had to put into the machine so that i could click a bunch of buttons on a screen and “submit” my vote. Did it count? I have no idea. I’m not even a technophobe and i don’t trust that damn thing. One of the things that i love about voting in SF is that i have to tear off this piece of paper at the top of my ballot; that confirms my vote and i can always go back with it and say, find my vote. I’m one of those crazy people who even keeps her pieces of paper until well after the election. When i cast my ballot in SF, i get to see the machine read it and the number go up – i can always see how many people voted before me. Here in LA? I have no idea. And i’m sooo not confident about the database behind that thing. I asked if i could get a receipt for my voting and the people looked at me once again like i had horns. They said that it counted, that it was all in the computer. (Damn techno-fetishism.) I made a less-than-thrilled face. One guy say and said, here, take this and handed me a sticker. Rather than simply saying that i voted, this sticker has the gall to say “I voted touchscreen.”
For the record, i want to state that no matter how fucked up this process is (and it’s MAJORLY fucked up), it’s critical that you get out and vote and fight for others’ right to vote. Our ancestors fought to make this country a democracy. Lives were lost so that all men could vote, regardless of the color of their skin. The fight for women’s suffrage was long and hard. Still, today, there are many around the world who don’t have the privileges that we take for granted when it comes to voting. Regardless of what you believe, if you are an American, you have a civic and social responsibility to get out and vote on Tuesday. Furthermore, you have a responsibility to make certain that every citizen in this country can vote and be counted. Freedom means nothing if you aren’t willing to fight for others’ right to vote or if you aren’t willing to get off your ass and vote yourself. Vote on November 7. Be counted, be heard.
i love my country
by which i mean
i am indebted joyfully
to all the people throughout its history
who have fought the government to make right
— Ani Difranco