Today really made me feel like a native New Yorker. It was my first time voting since I moved here almost 2 years ago. As dyspeptic as this election season has made me feel, and as disappointed as I have been in the President and the Senate (but not very disappointed in the House btw; I think they have generally kicked ass by comparison), it is one’s duty to vote, if only to fight off the worse option. Every jurisdiction in this country has a slightly different process for voting I have noticed. One would think that these rules should be harmonized across the country, at least in elections where there is a federal component. NYC had a couple of oddities that I noticed this morning while voting. For one, there were a few places on the ballot where the same candidate was listed twice in the choices for the same seat. When I asked about this, I was told it was because they were representing more than one party. This seems wildly anti-democratic to me. A fairer solution would be to list under that candidate all the parties they are representing. In theory, I could register 5 new parties and be the representative for all of them, assuring my name in the list for the same seat 5 times. This is ridiculous. The other oddity had to do with finishing my vote. I filled in the scantron with a black pen, then took it over to a place to feed it into a reader. It read in my vote, but didn’t verify my choices or give me any sort of receipt. Every other place I have voted I was at least given a receipt that verified that I had voted. It would seem fairly easy to be disenfranchised without it, but maybe not.
In any event, no matter how disheartened you may feel about our political process, please do go out to vote. At the very least it will give you the right to complain.
Thankfully, it is almost over. Election day is finally here, and the US finally has a chance to redeem itself. And after the last 8 years of creeping fascism and great damage to American democracy and separation of powers, now is my country’s chance to right itself. I am very hopeful (although still nervous) that Barack Obama will be elected with substantial majorities in congress. I am less sure of the prospects for defeating Proposition 8 in California. In my lifetime, I have never seen the intensity of action or felt the import of an election like this one. It will not be easy to undo the damage of the last 8 years, but if we are unable to chart a course in that direction I honestly won’t be comfortable living in my own country. I am on pins and needles, and await with some anxiety the returns. With the recent changes in DST (the US moving back and Argentina moving forward), I am now six hours ahead of California time. It is going to be a looooong night.
In the coming week, expect to see more disgusting vote suppression tactics like this one from the integrity filled right wing. The Lord helps those who help themselves…
No one can say I didn’t go out of my way to exercise my right and civic duty in voting this year. I registered absentee in my home state of California, with the ballot being mailed to my old roommate Jose. This was because I didn’t know exactly where I would be come voting time. After badgering Jose for several weeks (“Did it come?!, Did it come?!”) I finally got word that it did and Jose sent it (at a cost of 25 bucks! Thanks Jose!) to my temporary address here in Buenos Aires by USPS mail. I waited dutifully for it, but when I checked the USPS website for status, it said that they had tried to deliver it twice and failed. A call to USPS and they informed me that I would have to contact the local postal service as it was out of their hands once it left the States. When I finally got through to Correo Argentino and spoke to an operator (in my halting Spanish), we figured out that the street number address on the mailing had been wrong, and I would have to go down to their office near the train station to get it. I got there at 10am and took a number, and about an hour later I had my letter. After dutifully reading the entire voting pamphlet, I filled out my ballot and will be mailing it from the embassy later today. (Or tomorrow. It is raining really hard out right now.)
Regular readers of this blog know how important I think this election is, both nationally and in California. Please exercise your right to vote, it could really make a difference. And you have no business complaining about the political state of things if you don’t.
Please check out my reasons.