On Voting

Waiting to vote

In Washington, D.C, voting in national elections is essentially meaningless. We don’t have a vote in the Senate and our symbolic House representative, Eleanor Holmes Norton, inevitably sails to victory. Our three electoral college votes are guaranteed to be Democratic. That’s why it was all the more extraordinary that in my D.C. neighborhood of Mt. Pleasant this morning, best described as “a village in the city,” I waited on a 1.5 hour line to vote at the local high school. First a two block outdoor line. Then a 10 minute wait to pass through a single metal detector, followed by a 20 minute line to enter the school’s auditorium and then another 10 minute wait to check-in. Ballot in hand, I waited for a voting booth to free up, only to find there was a shortage of the required #2 pencils.

Did I finally vote? Yes. Afterward, on the bus to work, I heard a woman who lives a few blocks north of me, in a more affluent precinct, say her entire voting experience took five minutes. For me, voting was a deeply frustrating, discouraging experience. At several points, I came close to running out and hurrying to the office. “I’m late!” I kept thinking. I can only imagine how stressful it must have been for workers on a time-clock. As Adam and Ezra have written, there shouldn’t be a “time tax” on voting.

But the hopeful thing was, nobody left. Everyone waited. The drive to participate in this year’s election is so intense that people will spend 1.5 hours in line even in Washington, D.C., where the outcome is predetermined. I think that means voters in Ohio and Virginia and Colorado will be doubly committed, no matter what barriers they face.

Finally, a ballot

cross-posted at TAPPED

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