The other day, Anne asked me what it was like to vote in America. I thought it was an interesting question, and since Anne had just said that she found Americans to be incredibly polite, I felt somewhat obligated to come up with an answer. Also, how can I refuse a woman who has taught her two year old to swear in two languages?
Voting in America is much like what I imagine voting is like in any number of places. You register, stand in line, vote for your preferred candidate for several different offices, vote yes or not for various proposed laws or bond issues, and then collect your I Voted sticker and go on with your life.
Voting in America is also very different that what I imagine voting is like in any number of places. You are very unlikely to be shot for voting, which is a bit odd considering how much we Americans like to shoot each other. The polling place is very unlikely to be attacked or blown up. You may vote however you like without fear that you will be jailed or beaten. Any citizen, native or naturalized, who is over 18 and has not been convicted of a felony can register and vote. There are no requirements for education, prosperity, political affiliation. You are not even required to be of sound mind.
The strangest thing, to me, is the Electoral College. This was put into place by our much-admired Founding Fathers to prevent political parties from dominating national elections. Clearly, it has not proven to be as successful as they hoped. The result is that rather than a one man one vote system, we vote by state. Whichever candidate receives the majority of the votes in each state receives all the votes controlled by that state in the Electoral College.
I am a blue girl in a red state. There is no doubt that the majority of the people in my state will vote Republican on Tuesday and therefore my state will vote to re-elect the President. My vote will not count. I have real problems with this, as I firmly believe that the current President needs to be fired. He is a liar and a zealot. He has spent four years working his own agenda with no concern for the future well-being of the American people or the reputation of America around the world. He is an embarrassment. I am embarrassed that we put him into office and mortified that by living in the state where I live I helped to put him into power. It is my fervent hope that we send him home on Tuesday. However, I will in effect be voting to keep him in office.
I will vote anyway, and I will wear my sticker and I will be proud. Voting is a moral imperative. Less than half of us do it, which is the real embarrassment. When I vote on Tuesday, I will think of the people who have fought and died over the centuries to give me the right to do it, and I will think of the people who are still fighting for the privilege to stand in a voting booth and cast a single ballot for the things in which they believe. I will be angry when my vote is thrown out and my state votes against my values and opinions, but I will be angrier still at all of my fellow countrymen who stay home.
I encourage all of you to vote on Tuesday and to vote your conscience, and I encourage you to encourage your family and friends to do the same. It is quite literally the least that we can do.