Last week I was pretty excited to find my first official absentee ballot come in the mail! My Dad has always been pretty strong with us about voting. He would always ask after every election [no matter how big or small], “Did you vote?” and then we would always point to our little American flag sticker that reads I VOTED, that was lovingly pressed to our shirts by an old lady volunteer at the nearby school.
When I was younger I was really politically minded. I worked with a local politician that lived near my best friend. He afforded the two of us a wealth of experiences such as poll-calling [sometimes that would leave us in fits of giggles], canvasing neighborhoods with signs, attending spaghetti dinner fundraisers, etc… Later, I worked with him as an intern when he stepped into a local position after working at the State level. I was then able to call Washington D.C. to check facts on bills and laws. This left a huge impression on me but alas, I didn’t follow the road of politics since I learned I just don’t have that kind of cut-throat-ness in my nature.
In the year 2000, I found a job in Alexandria, VA and moved from my home in Michigan to pursue the opportunity. It was a Presidential election year and I knew I would have to make arrangements to get an absentee ballot mailed to me on time in order to vote. I heard some things about absentee ballots not counting and/or too difficult to get in time, etc-era… I remained determined to get mine! The day of the election, however, I still had not received my ballot. I followed the instructions to the letter so I concluded that they just failed to mail it out on time. Maybe some of you remember that this was the year of the “Hanging Chad” that caused a recount of votes in Florida. This recount ultimately resulted that the elected candidate was George W. Bush. I remember going to work and making an outraged call to my county clerk asking why my ballot was not delivered! They refuted that it was mailed out but in a snarky tone the woman on the phone said, “We can not be held responsible for the postal service failure to deliver on time. As is stated on all the documents you signed.” This response, of course, was not sufficient and fueled my frustration more. I was upset on many levels. Mostly because for the first time in my voting life I felt my vote was taken away from me. I did not like not having a voice. And yes, I did not really like the outcome of the election. But it would have made it easier on me if I knew my vote had been counted. When I arrived home that night my roommate pointed to the pile of mail and there among the junk mail sat my absentee ballot. One day too late!