Tuesday, November 04, 2008

for the record

I'm pretty grumpy about living in a Vote by Mail only state. since this change happened (99? I think?) I've grown increasingly disgruntled (minus last major election when I lived in another state). Here's the rub: it's supposed to be easier, use less resources, make voting more accessible. Yes? Maybe. Democracy requires a private vote and the "privacy of one's own home" could be anything but. Without the anonymity of a closed booth in a neutral location, how can we know votes aren't being unduly influenced, or blatantly coerced? We don't. We don't know at all. And, I don't know, somehow the going gives ceremony to an act that is, should be, important. Subtract the polling place and it is, should be, as important but something feels lost. Also, no stickers. Of course, anyone who has ever made it a practice to shop at Trader Joe's with young children knows all about the diluted thrill of so many stickers. But some little signal, some kind of proof, to ourselves, our neighbors, our children, that we participated, that we are part of the same country, that we all, despite varying philosophies and objectives, possess a valid voice, seems beneficial. I don't know why Oregon can't buy the same giant roll of I Voted stickers and pop one in with each ballot. My grandparents are polling place volunteers in their tiny New Mexico town and the last time I talked to my grandma I told her she should snag me a few stickers early and send them to me. I was only joking a little.

3 comments:

Lisa said...

See, I love vote by mail. I've never voted any other way. With the amount of time I've spent with my voter's pamphlet and the ballot, I can't imagine the practicalities of voting in a polling booth. Oh, the pressure! Also, I don't have to take wiggly, sure-to-be-bored kids with me. I can vote at 1am in the quiet of my living room if I choose. Stickers would be nice, but I still think just reusing a button every time would work as well. Anway, I'm a vote by mail fan.

Kristal said...

New Jersey is a booth voting only state. So this morning we had to stand in line for an hour with the very young and very old and even watched some very old people give up on voting because the lines were too long. And we didn't even get a sticker!
But I have always wanted to duck into a booth and working hard to make my vote did make me feel a little more connected to the election.
And seeing how disorganized the process was and hearing from others, I do wonder how many votes actually get counted.

Angelina said...

I miss booth voting. I agree that it makes an important action feel more real. I love getting the sticker and I love seeing other people voting too, even if we are diametrically opposed to each other politically, we're all Americans taking part. It's good to see that and be seen doing it.

It's very anti-climatic to vote by mail. It makes my anticipation much worse. I've been waiting for the outcome since Friday.