Your Mission Today: VOTE!
Freedom From Sex

The Rite of the Right to Vote

category_bug_politics.gif American voters clearly expressed their anger yesterday handing control of the House to Democrats and leaving the Senate, it appears from pre-dawn news, hanging in the balance. Probably for weeks.

It is now the Democrats' turn, between today and January, to jockey for committee and subcommittee chairmanships and other accoutrements of power while the first woman speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, figures out how to overcome 12 years of bitter division created by the Republicans, and find a path to legislative cooperation and compromise between the parties.

Don't expect that to happen just because Ms. Pelosi is a Democrat and a woman. Her party and gender do not mitigate the fact that she is, above all other descriptions, a politician in Washington where bribery, corruption and political thuggery are coin of the realm.

If the new, Democratic-controlled House spends its time on retribution, on impeachment of the president and hearings into misdeeds of the previous Congress, it will be as though the Republicans won this election. What we need is immediate and demonstrable progress on a new strategy for Iraq, on universal healthcare and the dozens of other important issues that have been neglected from the start of the Bush administration.

But I really came here today to say something else...

Yesterday morning was my debut vote in the state of Maine. Unlike New York City, there is no waiting line here, even when the polls first open. There are far fewer people (the total population of Portland is no more than that of Greenwich Village) and so my name was found on the list in a moment and I liked marking a paper ballot, which I’ve not done in decades. However…

As I approached the doors of my precinct, candidates assaulted me with grins, handshakes and greetings. It was like a receiving line at a formal dinner; I had the sense this is a required ritual. “Be sure to vote,” each said. “Don’t forget to vote.”

What the hell else would I be there for? I resented the last-minute electioneering which I had believed is not allowed. I’d never seen it in New York. (Well, once a campaign worker was handing out fliers at the polling station, but other arriving voters and I pummeled him verbally until he fled.)

Inside, a poll watcher answered the question, explaining that candidates may stand within a specified number of feet of the polling place and may speak with voters as long as they do not hand out literature or say, “Vote for me” or “Vote for Mary Jones”, etc. But it is obvious when you walk past the line, that’s what they mean.

By election day, haven’t we had enough campaigning? As I drove to my precinct, I thought over the choices I’d made, asked myself if I was certain, and considered the sadness I feel (when I’m not pissed off) that although we – Americans – have a system of selecting leaders many countries can only envy, I have no confidence that it works anymore - that all elected officials aren't there to pull off a coup as magnificent as that of Billy Tauzin.

[You remember Billy Tauzin, right? He's the representative from Louisiana who held a key position in shepherding the Medicare Part D bill through Congress - the bill that forbids Medicare from negotiating with pharmaceutical companies for better prices. Two months after passage of the Part D bill, Tauzin announced that he was quitting Congress to become head of PhRMA, the powerful pharmaceutical trade group. It was estimated in some quarters that his annual salary began at $2 million.]

Whatever my (well-earned) cynicism regarding our representatives, I still like exercising this Constitutional right to vote, and making it a private rite too – a few minutes of quiet to appreciate that I live in a country where my voice might still count.

It is a small point, but don’t you think candidates should be required to leave us alone with our thoughts on this one day when elections are held?


Comments

Absolutely. By then, you know if you're going to vote. And if you're going to vote you really know who you'll vote for. It has the feel of being a minnow in a feeding frenzy as you pass by the grinning candidates (make no eye contact!). . .and you make it inside!

7:30 a.m. in NYC..Missouri just elected a Democratic, Claire McCaskell, who told supporters, "You elected an underdog!"

In all my years of voting in four different states, I have NEVER had candidates, or any other person at a polling place as you describe. I do know there is a designated distance at which they must stay, and recall seeing a sign saying as much when I voted today, but there was no one else as I walked from my car into the building, then out again.

If that ever happened and I had been intending to vote for the person, I almost think I'd change my mind and probably not vote for them because of that. I get angry even thinking about it.

I might well resent news people and exit interviews, too, but have never been subjected to that either.

Like Joared, I've not been assailed at a polling place by those bent on getting votes for anyone or anything. I do get assailed--by people who grin from ear-to-ear at seeing me for the first time in several weeks/a few months. Too, although there are only 21,000 people in the town in which I live, there are poll workers whom I see nowhere else; so, it's always nice to see them. Polling places are pretty jovial and friendly, in Kansas--one of the "reddest" states around!

Here in Minnesota the law bans any form of campaigning, including distribution of literature, within 100 feet of a polling place, and it seems to be followed pretty closely. We usually have lots of people taking exit polls, but even they were absent this year.

As long as they keep the specified distance....I have no problem with them. It's their right. Who am I to deny it? But I have the right to also ignore them if I so choose.

I am happy for Joe Leiberman. He seems like a really decent guy. Maybe the only decent person in politics.

One of the several reasons I go for early voting is so that I do not have to run the gauntlet of those last minute pleas by the candidates or their representatives. I really believe once someone reaches the polling place, they know who they are going to vote for.
We went the first day of early voting, and no one had the opportunity to even post signs, which did appear in the ensuing days.

The workers around the poll I voted at were polite and just handed me some literature, at the required distance from the polls. Guess what? We have our first Democratic governor in 16 years here in Massachusetts! And he's black. Oh, happy day! I'm hopeful for the first time in years.

Real people shaking hands and smiling even talking? ..... Hmmm isn't that what this should actually be about? I'd take that anytime over the multiple automated phone calls and junk mail I've received. Don't think it would bother me!

Have you read Aging Artfully (I think that is the name of the book)? It was reviewed in our local paper this weekend. Sounds interesting.

Oregonians have vote by mail now which means we miss out on the polling places. I felt that was rather sad but it is easier especially for people who need more time on their ballots (and with a lot of petitions, we end up with lengthy issues to mark correctly).

I hope for the best with how the election turned out. I think it was a vote against the same old same old and if the democrats misunderstand that and think their most liberal agenda is what people voted for, they won't be there long. Most of the new democrats are more conservative, more to the middle and so what they want won't necessarily be what Pelosi has wanted. It should be an interesting two years and hopefully it won't damage the chances for a democratic president next time, but it well could.

I believe it was a victory though for the American people in that they finally got to express their opinion that they don't like how it's been. What will be done about that, time will tell.

Honestly I can fathom why more don't vote from the privacy of their home. Going to the polling place to vote, at least in Denver, is such a drag.
I feel when you wait to the final day you risk not having you vote counted, as was the case for quite a few voters in Denver yesterday. What a shame.

Yes, Yes, and YES! That's all I've got to say....but, this morning I'm smiling.

Welcome to the USSA.

As horribly devastating as Sept. 11, 2001 was, the next one will be unimaginable.

God help us all.

I moved to Maine about a year ago, so this was my first Maine election too. Though I didn't have to deal with any last-minute electioneering yesterday, my wife has lived here all her life, and has told me stories about that annoyance. Her technique for avoiding the phalanx of candidates waiting at the polls was simply to wear a Walkman and breeze right by 'em. I thought that was a pretty good idea.

I think the response might be altogether different if the candidates and supporters waiting for the voters simply applauded people for exercising their right to vote. "Good job! We're glad you're voting! Hooray for America!" I could stand a reception like that, but I'm another Oregonian and I like our mail-in balloting. This year I did miss getting a sticky saying "I Voted!" like we used to when we went to the polls. I think I'll write a letter to the Secretary of State to include one of these in every ballot that is issued. It wouldn't cost much and would give us a chance to encourage our neighbors to vote by our example. Not that we Oregonians needed much encouragement this year--our Secretary of State predicted a 70% turnout and it looks like he may have gotten it.

Like some others, I think if we can trust secure telephone banking then we should be able to design and trust a home-based voting system. I thought this post was from Crabby Old Lady until I double checked -- gosh with everything else there is to beef about, some last minute campaigning seems fairly tame. Mostly, what I want to see are Elders taking leadership in how many of us vote and also remind us and keep reminding us that without personal responsbiltiy for the whole system, democracy becomes an ideology and loses its power as a foundation for freedom and a system for governance.

It is time to stop helping and start making stuff happen !!!

Oh, heck yes!! Luckily we escaped that gamut yesterday because it was raining, and none of them wanted to stand out in the rain.

The oddest one I ever saw passed out stale candy corn with a big, sleazy grin on his face. He lost.

For several reasons I cast my vote by absentee ballot - but on tuesday my phone rang nearly off the hook with last minute campaigning. I finally began answering the phone "I have voted. Have you?" Which led to numerous abrupt silences.
I am for the days when I can go out to a town meeting and listen to the candidate :) But enen more - to be able to hold them accountable for their vote :)

Absentee Voting is optional in Arizona and I always use it. We do get a sticky with our ballots saying, "I voted early". I am so happy that we no longer have a one party government. Too much power always breeds corruption.

I'm spreading the word on election reform and recommend a documentary I saw last week in Nashville, TN. Here's the website for it: http://eternalvigilance.us Be sure to look at the clips from the film. If that url doesn't work, I have a link to it on my blog on a recent post.

I agree about what needs to be done and that retaliation isn't it. We need to focus on what will improve lives of citizens and manage the money.

Well said, Ronni!!! Castigating and chastising the Republicans is is not the answer -- the answer is in doing something productive for a change. Otherwise we just traded one set of bozos for another!

I absolutely agree with you Ronni. Leave us the hell alone while we stand in line to vote. I solved this problem by voting by mail this year - no hassles. After waiting in line for over an hour in the freezing cold to vote in Maryland in 2004, I figured it was the thing to do. (I was sorely disappointed in the results in 2004 too.)

Of the People, by the People, for the People...

Hello Fellow Citizens!

Yes! I executed my patriotic duty! I voted! I glowed with so much inner pride and endless happiness, that I glowed brighter than Rudolph's red glowing nose!

I want to share with you all my insight that came to me as I glowed with pride and happiness, and at the same time, thankful for the endeavors of past Americans who worked hard to give me this "right to vote!"

How awesome to see that the people voting with me came from different parts of the world... to join with the rest of us by becoming American Citizens just to vote as a United American Voice with the right to disagree peacefully.

There is hope for "living in peace by practicing our voting rights." It was not an easy lesson for our Country to learn during the 1860's when only an elite group were allowed the "American right to vote." We also had to go through a civil war to allow all peoples of all colors the right to be called American Citizens. Even that process extended well into the 1960s until it became a law.

So it took us American People almost 100 years just to get to the point of thinking to make it a law to allow all citizens the right to vote!

So let's continue being "living examples" to the people living in other countries that are just beginning to learn the process of allowing their citizens to vote!

Vote and be a "living example" for your family, your friends, and the people surrounding you.

It's okay to have politicians "doing their thing in Washington!" But our "united American Voice votes" are also powerful in directing our politicians to resolve immediately the issues that are truly needed and wanted by us, The United American People. Every day, We must unite within our families, within our churches and schools, within our town communities, within our counties, within our states so that we can "vote unitedly" to direct our Federal Government officials to serve us.

We are now living in the Internet Age... Through our new internet technology..we can unite and discuss the important issues to us as we are doing "by internet blogging!"

My sincere and warm thanks to Ronni Bennett who got us started! Thank you Ronni!

Love,

Jessica

Well, yes. We definitely should avoid being like Republicans...ick. However, Bush, Cheney, Rice, et al., should be held accountable for their high crimes and misdemeanors. We need to get medieval on 'em. If any president ever deserved impeachment, it's George W. Bush.

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