Fun with voting

I’ve been thinking a lot about voting lately.  The right to vote used to be one that I pretty much took for granted- after all, I’ve always lived in confirmed “blue” states, so while I may have preached the “every vote counts” rule, my vote always felt more symbolic than anything else.  I always turned out for presidential elections, of course, but for other elections it was more a matter of convenience.  If I had to work an extra shift, or just plain forgot, it wasn’t that big a deal.

Until a month ago.  As usual, I wasn’t sure if I was going to vote in the state primary election, but I finally decided that I should- I couldn’t claim to be politically active and then neglect the most basic form of political activity.  When I got to the polling center – the one that had been listed on all the reminders I had recieved from the Board of Elections in the previous month – my name was not in any of the books of registered voters.  I was given a paper ballot, and went home that night slightly puzzled but not concerned.

A week or so later, I received a mailing from the Board telling me that my registration had been reinstated.  Meaning, as I interpreted it, at some point it had been revoked.  To quote everyone who’s covered “Big Yellow Taxi,” you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone: suddenly, my right to vote has taken on a new importance.  I have since called the Board of Elections several times, and, while I have been given explanations, they don’t seem to fit with the voting registration information that I’ve found (go to pg. 12 on that link).  (For a little more detail on this whole ordeal, check out Idealink)

I was reminded of this because of a New York Times article about whether felons should have the right to vote- in some states, a convicted felon loses this right for the rest of his or her life.  Now, even if we ignore the problem of non-felons with similar names losing their vote, this still seems to be an outrageous issue.  As far as I can tell, this country places no other restriction (beside age) on who is allowed to vote.  There is no way that a criminal could use a vote to do harm to society, so that is no justification.  All these laws do is remove a basic right from people (primarily minorities) who have already been punished and, supposedly, rehabilitated.

Now, this first post is already pretty long, so I’ll save my idealistic vision of how elections should be run for another day.  For those of you interested in the knitting, I’m working on a throw pillow (Christmas presents already!), and will soon start a pair of dog sweaters, as commissioned by my mom.  More on that later, too.


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