This is significant to me because even though I’ve been able to vote for about 18 years now, and despite being a registered voter in my hometown of Queens, NYC this is actually the first time I’ve voted.
My husband and I were able to vote early and by mail in the state of Ohio because of his military status. (I even got a sticker that says: I voted by mail!) The Midterms are a month away.
In New York City, Election Day is actually a holiday in lots of businesses and organizations, schools are even closed for it; but that’s not the case in many states — which I’ve always felt was a form of voter suppression. I mean, if you’re a struggling worker trying to make ends meet, you’re probably not going to be able to take a day off work on a Tuesday to go stand in line to vote. It should be on a Sunday, I think — or all states should allow for absentee ballot voting.
I didn’t really care who “won” in 2016; I mean, after all, I didn’t even vote, so how much could I have cared, right? However, I got upset as the current presidency progressed and all of the low moments in our country that have transpired since. I felt I was complacent and that I didn’t have a right to complain because I didn’t even cast a vote.
It’s a privilege that many truly takes for granted, especially in our country’s history, where many have died or been persecuted in some way to be able to vote… but I still maintained that I have no right to complain because I didn’t vote.
Even voting this time was no easy task (and I was determined!). First, despite never casting a vote in Queens, NYC I still had to de-register myself. I mailed a change of voter registration form (like 3 times, at least!) requesting to be removed from New York’s voter registration, but every time I checked online, my name was still registered. After two months, I even emailed the County Board of Elections to remove me, and got an email reply that stated I need to send in a change of voter registration form (whoever is in charge is sleeping on the job over there!). Seriously, fix yourself Queens County Board of Elections!!!
I did some Google research and found that because my husband is in the military, I can change my voter registration using a federal form instead of a state one (much more user friendly). I mailed it in as well as emailed it to Ohio (during my Google research I found that when you register in a new state, it’s up to that state’s county Board of Elections to request your removal from your old registration).
While being a native to a metropolis like NYC has made everything more easily accessible and available, there are some things that less populated areas (and states) do have advantages in. When I lived in Iowa, I never had to wait to be seen in the ER; getting my driver’s license was as easy as walking 2 blocks away and spending about 10 minutes at the courthouse… I figured I would have better luck with the state of Ohio than the city of New York.
I looked online after a few weeks and I was still not registered to vote in Ohio, but they did send my husband’s absentee ballot for the Ohio Primary (which meant my forms were received because his absentee ballot request was mailed (and emailed) with my forms). I decided to give it one more go, I mailed (and email) my forms for the General Election to Cincinnati (the Hamilton County Board of Elections), but this time I used the state form instead of the federal form; and on the last page where my signature was needed, on the blank area of the form I wrote for Hamilton County to request to de-register me from Queens County in New York City — and even wrote out the contact name, address, and telephone number for the Queens County Board of Elections.
Surprisingly, when I checked in August, I was registered (finally) in Ohio, as well as de-register in NYC. It might have been because of the special election in Ohio during August that made election workers more diligent in Hamilton County, or that we were nearing the Midterms and election workers just did their job more efficiently — I’m not sure, actually.
It’s obstacles like these that I am sure discourages many from voting (besides from the fact that no one likes standing in long lines); but I also felt very significant, as crazy as that sounds.
I did not donate money, I did not fight a war, I did not volunteer, I did not try to get others to vote, I did not protest or march, or became a part of a historical movement (there were many such movements to choose from)… I did none of that, but I spent a whole summer making sure that I would be able to use my privilege as an American to vote. I felt significant because MY vote counts!
The best I can compare it to is a marathon. You don’t have to come in first, or even at the top, but just crossing the finish-line is significant.
Originally published at nycgalout.wordpress.com