Yesterday I took my wife to the polling place where she and our son Richard cast their votes in the national election. The State of Maryland offered early voting and we arrived at the voting place one hour before the polls opened to ensure a favorable place in line. Boy, were we in for a surprise?
I refused the offer to vote early at the designated location as I am old fashioned and prefer to cast my vote in my neighborhood which is a rural community where I know the workers and mix with neighbors on each occasion. So I departed home at 10:15 AM for arrival at 11:00 AM, one hour before the polls open. For the next five hours my wife stood outside in 50 degree temperature and slight rain with thousands of other early voters who braved the elements to cast their votes; this was a travesty.
In line were the elderly, babies, toddlers and the handicapped, all of whom were forced to move inches at a time in the five hour experience. It is a travesty to require citizens of this country to weather such an ordeal to fulfill their obligation to vote. The next time that I hear a reference to the 47%, who are takers and make no contribution to democracy, I will remind them of the individuals, young and old whom I watched as they waited their turn.
Our country is able to send a module to Mars and interact in real time while we are watching a live feed, yet we choose not to make voting an easy and pleasant experience. I am ashamed of my country that would make the experience so difficult for so many. We are the most advanced country in the world, yet we require a process that is centuries old to record our individual choices in the election. It does not take a genius to design a process that would facilitate individual selections that is fool proof. Some states have adopted mail balloting but there are simpler ways to use technology in the balloting process beyond a single computer screen that facilitates one voter at a time. The entire process is pre computer age and should have been discarded with telephone booths on the corner.
It is obvious that the bureaucrats who are responsible for this system do not want to modernize, that they prefer inflicting torture on civic minded citizens who want to play their role in our democratic system. To require a 90 year old or a handicapped person to brave the elements for five hours to vote is criminal. Even a young person should not be required to submit to such torture.
For those critics who find fault with Americans and suggest that 47% are “takers” they did not see those people lined up for blocks to cast a vote. A vote that will not change their life directly and there is no immediate self-gratification beyond knowing that “I voted.” These people are the true Americans, not the phonies who were born with a spoon in their mouths and pass judgment with deriding comments about 47% viewing themselves as victims.
I plan to cast my vote on Tuesday at my regular polling place and I will remember these thousands of voters, black, white and brown who were herded into long lines in bad weather to do what we have a right to do; vote!