But, it took some effort.
That’s okay; it started me thinking.
I have voted in most of the elections for which I was eligible, but I usually gave little thought to the process. I was taught, as a child, about the right to vote. As I became an adult, I embraced the idea that voting was a responsibility. Later on, I learned that voting is a privilege as I became increasingly aware that others around the world endure continuing hardships to win their own voting rights. And so, for this election, I counted it my duty to vote.
In Texas, though, not a lot of voters consider voting a priority. Especially in “off-year” elections, as this one is, our state’s voter turnout record is abysmal, dead last among the states, with just over 32% of registered adults casting ballots in 2010. Only the District of Columbia has a lower percentage turnout. For this year’s primaries, Texas numbered 13.6 million registered voters on the rolls. Only 1.9 million exercised their right to vote.
It started me thinking.
Texas makes it pretty easy for citizens to vote. Despite recent furor about the requirement for photo IDs, requirements are relatively easy to meet. With early voting, vote by mail, and options that cater to all manner of disabilities and special needs, it should be easy.
Logistically, for us, it was not easy this year.
The road to voting took several days, multiple telephone calls, visits to four different precincts, lots of driving, many sighs, and help from a number of people. Ranging from an early assurance that, “You can go to any convenient precinct location,” to a later recommendation that we should “just go back to your old precinct,” it was frustrating. It was time-consuming; it was fraught with misinformation, and well-meant but incorrect advice.
In the end, it was worth it. But, it started me thinking.
Under Texas law, I am a registered voter. However, the reality is not as simple as the facts. You see, we moved from one county to another, and missed the deadline for changing the address on our voter registration cards by about two days. Had we not been able to appear in person today at the single precinct location in our new county that could give us a “Limited Ballot,” we would not have been able to cast a ballot in this election.
In our special situation, we were required to vote during the early voting timeline; we were required to appear in person at a specified location. We were required to vote on a specially prepared ballot that eliminated the races that were specific to both our former and our current locations. It seems a fair process, designed to ensure that “informed” choices are reflected.
In the end, we learned that perhaps voting is not so easy after all. Nor should it be. For the act of voting, the decisions about who will be at the helm of local, state and national government over the next two years should not be taken lightly.
It is all worth thinking about.
Voting should require some effort. That is not too much to ask of citizens.
We walked out of the polling place this morning proudly sporting “I Voted” stickers.