A voting retrospective
I voted in-person for the first time last week. When I arrived at my precinct to check in, one of the girls behind the table turned to the other and said, “That’s six!” She explained to me that I was only the sixth young voter they’d seen all day.
Unfortunately, this didn’t surprise me. I had a lot of friends tell me that they weren’t going to vote. Some people forgot to request absentee ballots, or they didn’t have a way to get to their precinct, which was sometimes quite far away. Some of them didn’t care, gave excuses about being forced to vote for “the lesser of two evils,” or made arguments that their vote wouldn’t be the deciding vote anyway. Or sometimes, they didn’t really have a reason – they just stayed home.
Despite talking a pretty strong game and posting a lot of social justice stuff on my Tumblr, I thought about skipping the polls as well. As someone who deals with a decent amount of anxiety, the idea of walking into this new place and doing this new thing seemed daunting.
It would have been easier to not vote. The only time I had to go was during my three-hour break between classes, of which I have four on Tuesdays. I debated actually studying for my Spanish test, or maybe just taking a nap.
And I wasn’t crazy about the 45-minute drive both ways to Belmont, either. However, I forced myself out the door, bribing myself with Starbucks and an "I Voted!" sticker.
But in the end, it wasn’t bad at all. The women working there were all pleasant and eager to help me, especially when I told them it was my first time voting in-person. I didn’t screw up the ballot and have to ask for a new one. And for some reason, I’d pictured lines and waiting time, but I was in and out of the parking lot in less than ten minutes.
As I drove back to Allendale, I couldn’t help wondering about the process of voting, whether we’re doing enough to actually make voting easy for people. Couldn’t we declare election days national holidays, so most people could be out of school and work in order to make it to the polls? Could we set up cool voting events, like concerts? Or, is it even possible that we could all vote online?
Of course, voting online would have to be handled very delicately, through a perfect online system, and we know that developing webpages isn’t exactly one of this administration’s strengths (lookin’ at you, Obamacare website debacle of 2014). But perhaps a system that requires a PIN set at the Secretary of State, a Social Security Number and several other security checks would be a great solution for all.
It’ll be a while until we vote next, and it is most likely that not much will have changed about the process. But seriously, let’s make sure to get our absentee ballots filed next time and register and all that jazz. Bug your friends about it if you have to. If we want to be treated like adults, we need to vote like them, too.