I guess suffering through the voting experience is not the same as being a Suffragist. I just read a great blog article about those activists who sacrificed to earn our right to vote. Several were jailed and beaten for picketing the White House. One woman, Alice Paul, went on a hunger strike. The authorities tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into it until she vomited.
This torture went on for weeks. Woodrow Wilson and his cronies tried to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so she could be institutionalized. The doctor refused saying, “Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.”
For those of you thinking about not voting I hope you now feel a renewed respect for the privilege to vote, because I do. But I will tell you a secret — I really don’t enjoy the actual experience. Here’s why:
- You drive up to the voting booth and are bombarded by signs from each political party. Do they really think that you are going to think, “OMG, I didn’t realize there was another person running for President. His signs are pretty and there are so many of them I think I’ll vote for him!” Save the trees. We’re not changing our minds on election day.
- The people sitting behind the folding tables with a voter registry usually can’t hear you. While I admire their willingness to serve the community, most of our volunteers are centurions and have a hard time both seeing and hearing. They study the paper in front of them like it’s written in some Martian language, and they never find your name the first time.
- The conversation based upon the confusion goes something like this: “I’m sorry, Miss, but your name isn’t on here. Did you move recently?” “No, and I’ve voted here for the past fifteen years.” “Hmmm, that’s odd. Mabel, why isn’t her name on this sheet?” “Huh? What?” “Is this lady’s name on your sheet?” “I don’t know. What’s her name?” “Miss, what is your name again?” And the line grows and you decide you don’t really need your job, you’d rather stand in this line all day.
- The actual voting booth is always confusing. We still have those old booths you step in, pull the big lever, and the curtain closes behind you. I always feel like the Wizard of Oz in there with all of the lever turning. I try to create a big head with flames behind it to scare Mabel and friends into working faster, but it never works.
Finally, and I have to admit this, I go in to vote for the President and end up for casting ballots for a lot of candidates and legislation I know absolutely nothing about. Yes, I know who I want to run the country. No, I don’t know about the obscure constitutional amendment that seems to have a connection to trash collection or government improvement, I’m not sure which.
So, there you go. I’m going to go vote, and I will accept the “I Voted” sticker and wear it proudly to shame everybody who hasn’t voted.
Why am I voting? Because my mom always said if you don’t vote you don’t get to complain about the person in office, and I love to complain. And because some women, many years ago, sat in jail cells so I can have the right to do it.