Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Vote Early and Often!

I’ll bet I’m not the first person to ask this question, if only because I’ve been asking it for nearly four decades now, but here it is: Why must I vote at “my” polling place and only my polling place?

The often-asked question (I live in a state and a city that seem to hold an awful lot of elections, “special” and otherwise) arose again this morning as I dropped my son off at his high school. Having had some difficulty getting him in a fully upright position, I observed, as he exited the car, that it was 8:08. Since my work hours are pretty flexible, it wouldn’t ordinarily matter if I took a few minutes to double back to Longfellow Elementary, “my” polling place, cast a quick vote (secure in the knowledge that there would be no lines of voters to worry about), and be to the office in good form. However, on Tuesdays I like to have proofs on the conference table for the 8:30 worship-planning meeting, and even though the points of the high school-polling place-office triangle are literally only a couple of miles apart, I wasn’t sure I could exercise my franchise and still have the proofs on the table.

(Sure, I could have called work and asked Stella to break into my office and transport the proofs from my desk to the conference table, but I like to save favors like that for real emergencies.)

And then a couple of things occur to me:
    1. My son’s high school is a polling place, and 
    B. My workplace is a polling place
Yes, that’s right: A few minutes ago I walked past several empty voting booths to get to my office, but they were of no use to me. And the age-old question resurfaces: How come?

Certainly in our great technological age there must be some mechanism by which my signing in to vote at my workplace, or my son’s school, or anyplace else would lock me out of voting at any other polls in town, no?

But of course, though the technology surely exists, I overlook the fact that we live in an age in which dark forces conspire to make voting more difficult, not less, and to deprive whole segments of the population (those who traditionally vote for the “wrong” party) of their right to vote at all. And I’ve no reason to believe those forces would not use such technology to shut out those whose votes they cannot claim honestly.

So perhaps it’s best to leave well enough alone.