Friday, October 29, 2004

If It Were Only This Easy Everywhere

I have a little confession to make. It is easier for me to perform my civic duty than probably 99.9% of Americans. The reason being: my particular election day polling station happens to be in the lobby of the apartment building I call home. All I have to do is stop off at the station on my way to work, flash my ID, sign the book, step into the booth, flip the switches and pull the lever. It's that easy. Better still, from this position of comfort, I can sanctimoniously lecture other Americans, for whom voting might represent much more of a disruption from their otherwise busy day, about the virtues of casting a ballot on election day.

In an effort to capitalize on the inconvenience factor, apparently, certain Republican operatives have circulated plans to create "snarls" at polling stations by frequently challenging credentials of potential voters in certain Democratic-friendly neighborhoods in swing states in order to increase the size of lines. They are banking on the fact that voters will be too busy, or discouraged, to wait around long enough to cast their ballot. Call it disenfranchisement by delay. Which reminds me how ludicrous it is that the world's greatest democracy does not consider election day to be worthy of consideration for a national holiday - which would allow voters the luxury of taking time out to vote without interfering with their livelihoods.

So, I got a little jolt of excitement as I returned home from the office yesterday to see those two metal encased booths closed tight in my lobby, like presents waiting to be opened by an eager child on Christmas morning. I openly admit that I am a bit obsessed with all things political, and not everyone would have this reaction to the presence of voting booths - but humor me. I also felt a sense of security because these two machines represent "old reliable" to me, especially in light of Florida 2000, and all the recent "glitches" that the dubiously effective electronic voting machines have been experiencing, as reported by
Mick Arran and others. I am confident that when I take the time to pull the lever on Tuesday morning on my way to the subway, my vote will count. Not every American can share such assuredness or convenience. If it were only this easy everywhere.

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