In my idealistic imagination, I drape certain occupations in robes of dedication, purpose and diligence. The realist in me recognizes the value of consciously attending to documentation, rules and authority. In my head, idealism and realism are a necessary partnership.
I see the election commission as the group who invisibly make a complicated task look simple. Determined to make certain that everyone votes, they carefully follow protocol to prevent any semblance of wrongdoing that could invalidate votes.
This week, I sighed in resignation as I accepted that Vogons now staff election commissions.
My daughter was 17 when she graduated high school, moved to a dorm in New York and began her college career. Being turned away from her campus voter registration drive because she is a TN resident was disappointing. Learning that registering to vote by mail would make her ineligible for an absentee ballot was perplexing. If she could be in TN to vote, she could register in TN. She can’t. She is twelve hours away from TN and living on a minimum wage job while a full-time student doing work-study. She is the poster child for voters who should use absentee ballots.
She called Knoxville’s Election Commission office to explain her dilemma and learn the options that exist for an out-of-state TN college student. Instead of advice or suggestions, she was told that TN will be red no matter what and her vote wouldn’t matter. A verbally condescending pat and don’t worry your pretty little head is insulting and borders on disenfranchisement. There are people alive today who were born before women were allowed to vote. Voting is both a privilege and a responsibility. We owe it to all of our ancestors who weren’t allowed to vote to make certain that we always participate in the election process.
When a college student calls the election commission to ask for information about registering and voting, they SHOULD be told how to navigate the process. They should NOT be told that their vote won’t matter. That is completely unacceptable.
If you are too busy writing poetry to take the time to explain the options for registering and voting to a person who should legally be allowed to vote, you need to retire to Vogsphere or transfer to a field more amenable to your personality. I’m sure the prison industrial complex would appreciate your people skills. Average American voters expect professionalism, even if you are not cloaked in the robes of idealism.