Thursday, October 02, 2008

on voting and privilege.

I'm having a bout of voter enlightenment. Somehow in the past day or so, I've been hearing much more about voter registration, with various groups making sure you are registered to vote. (I swear even google was urging me.) And in my head I think, what is the big effing deal?

You see, I was born and raised in Minnesota. I lived in Wisconsin while I was in college, and usually voted absentee. But of course, it's a lot more fun to vote in an actual polling place. And in Wisconsin and Minnesota, this is quite easy! I did it for the first time during the 2004 presidential primaries (which happened to be on my birthday). All I had to do was bring a utility bill with my address, sign my name, and I was set. Then when I moved back to Minnesota, I did the same thing. I never had to designate a party, hell, I never even registered as an independent.

Sadly, though, I am coming to realize that I am a privileged voter. Only six states allow election day registration (besides North Dakota, where one needn't register at all).

I know what you're thinking - how could you NOT know that other states have to register up to thirty days in advance? Again, it's this state of privilege - I am in my happy bubble where I can decide on election day that dammit! I want to vote! And I can do that. Oh sure, I knew in some states it maybe isn't this way, but I figured they would be the ones that also once required people to pass literacy tests and pay poll taxes in order to vote. Not the majority of the country.

(Is it really a big question why Minnesota had the highest voter turnout of any state in the country in 2004?)

So pardon me if I am frequently baffled by these strange requirements.

In semi-related news, I started a twitter account that I may abandon tomorrow.


peter said...

So, wait, you have to register for every election? What?

e said...

Well, where I've lived, you have to vote in the precinct where you live. So I've "registered" every time I've voted at a new address.

peter said...

OK, that makes more sense.

For federal and state elections we can vote at any polling place easily enough. But local elections also have to be done in the same council area. For me, updating my enrolment details is just on the list of things I have to do every time I move.