Electoral Ponderings

Filed under: @ 9:27 am

Listening to NPR this morning we were, of course, treated to a large volume of election coverage of one type or another. One story in particular struck me.
In the last – maybe – 20 years voting in person at one’s local precinct has become far less common. In this particular story the reporter was interviewing several people at an early voting site in Ohio. Some were voting early to avoid the election day crowds, some were voting because they had other commitments on election day that would keep them from being able to vote, a couple were at the early voting site only because they had driven friends who were voting at the early voting site, but who planned themselves to be at their local precincts voting in person on election day. The excitement of the environment of the precinct voting was what these people were after.
And it occurred to me to wonder.
I’ve almost always been a mail-in voter. When I was a child I’d occasionally go with my parents to their local precinct when they went to vote and I have to admit, it was cool with all the official election paraphernalia, the voting booths, etc. And I’d do it as an adult except…..
Except that voting by mail is much more convenient in that I don’t have to get up early on election day, get ready for work early, then drive to my local polling station to stand in line to wait to vote and risk being late for work.

When did a privilege, a duty of a free adult living in a democracy, an OBLIGATION to my country, my fellow citizens, and myself, become a nuisance? Something that you HAVE to do.
One of the voters at the early polling station that was interviewed on the NPR story was saying “I wish there were some way to make it easier. Maybe some day people can vote at home somehow — like on their computers or something.”

I have a boss who would absolutely be understanding and supportive of my tardiness if I were late to work because I had been voting.
Legal or no, I wonder how many people don’t? Especially those disenfranchised voters working low wage high turnover jobs. I wonder how many don’t vote because they can’t risk their job for a process that might matter, in however small a fashion, to them, but doesn’t matter to a working environment that only sees people as a function of their attendance and their production?

I don’t think voting should become easier. I don’t like the idea of changing “Election Day” to “Election Season” (GOD forbid this process gets drawn out any longer. I swear, one more campaign ad and I’m going to slit my wrists!). Our parents, our grandparents, our great grandparents (or, in my case I’m old enough that only my great grandfathers) wouldn’t have blinked at the idea of missing work, rescheduling appointments, or doing whatever needed to be done to be able to cast their votes.
I don’t think voting should become easier.
I think voting should become more important.

Happy Election Day everyone.

3 Responses to “Electoral Ponderings”

  1. YakBoy Says:

    In my dream world the U.S. would have 100% publicly funded elections. Candidate’s campaigns would get X number of dollars to spend on advertising and promotion and there would be 2 or at most 3 televised/broadcast debates and that would be it. No private money at all for anything ever.

    Each state would have a version of the Citizens Jury that Oregon has started to use to help voters evaluate ballot initiatives – http://www.theskanner.com/article/2010/08/12/Citizens-Jury-Examines-Impacts-of-Voter-Initiatives

    and election day would be a national holiday.

  2. Dalek Says:

    I *wish* we had the option back of going to our “local polling place.” I always voted in person, until they took away the option and went to all mail-in ballot voting. 👿

  3. Valerie Says:

    Yeah, there are several counties in WA that are all mail-in voting. And while I like my permanent absentee ballot, I believe there should be polling places open for people to vote in person. I just have this image in my head of a timid spouse or 18+yo child or elderly person terrorized by the authority figure in the house to vote in a particular way regardless of what that person’s wishes are. I have a friend who owns a breakfast/lunch restaurant and was helping him out one time with a dinner he’d donated to a charity auction. The person who won the dinner used it as an off-site voting workshop where he gathered influential members from local area churches and presented them with photocopies of his own filled-out absentee ballot stating “this is how a Christian should vote” then exhorted them to return to their congregation and have their members vote the same way. All legal. Just not….admirable.

    In my mind, 100% mail-in voting increases the chances of some shady characters unfairly controlling other people’s votes. I just have a really bad feeling about this stuff.

Leave a Reply

All comments containing hyperlinks are held for approval, so don't worry if your comment doesn't show up immediately. (I'm not editing for content, just weeding out the more obvious comment spam.)

All portions of this site are © Andrew Lenzer, all rights reserved, unless otherwise noted.