A Voting Reflection

Several years ago (actually 2011-is that a few?)  I posted a copy of an Op Ed that I had published in a local paper Voting Booth Nostalgia .

I bemoaned the switch from  “now-vintage” voting booths with levers, tabs and curtains to the digital scanning method of voting.

Local school budgets are up for voter approval today. My 19 yr old daughter is home from college for a few weeks . So I told her she was eligible to cast her ballot. My husband even tried to entice her to participate by telling her that this was her chance to use the old voting booths.

Despite what my hypothesis was in my OpEd Voting Booth Nostalgia ,

she was totally against my expectations (should I be surprised?)

Her reaction was: “Well, I’m claustrophobic. Those booths would scare me. I would be afraid I couldn’t get out. And I don’t understand how to flip the buttons.”  Who would have thought? I guess my argument was totally wrong. (Actually my argument has been disproven).

Nevertheless, I went to vote today, all excited to pull the lever, and instead was handed a paper ballot and a pen.

The mechanical era is over…

 

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Voting Booth Nostalgia

As Election Day approaches, I want to post an article I wrote as an op-ed piece last year(11/5/10), right after my polling site went digital. I encourage everyone reading this to get out and exercise their rights on November 8th!

Step into the booth. Yank the door shut. Swish…

No, you’re not
Superman; but you feel like you could be… Click… Click… click,click,click….
Click… click, click, click….click.

Look up, then
down the columns; oops- flip…click. Look again.

Take a deep
breath…. Grab, and pull the lever with all your might. Swoosh! You feel the
power as you cast your vote!

A New York polling place, showing booths on th...

Image via Wikipedia

Unfortunately those days are gone.
Now, with the Digital Image Scanner, those feelings of empowerment are over.
The next generation of voters will feel as satisfied about fulfilling their
citizen’s duty as they would taking an exam.

Take a card. Fill in the dots.
Double check for neatness and accuracy. Feed it into the electronic machine-
which will then thank you for your vote. Where’s the connection to that?

As a young person growing up in the
70’s, I was very aware of the importance of voting. Not only did I see it as a
way of choosing representatives and leaders, but I also knew how long and hard
civil rights groups had struggled to achieve that goal.

The Nineteenth Amendment, which gave
women the right to vote, wasn’t ratified for 72 years after the Seneca Falls convention. It was also fifty years after
men of color were given voting rights in the Fifteenth Amendment (although it
took several revisions of The Voting Rights Act in the 1960’s-70’s to end
discrimination).

As a parent these days, I teach my
children the obligation we have as American citizens and tell them about the
hardships people face trying to vote in other parts of the world. Walking miles
to the nearest polling place, enduring long waits in lines, being threatened or
attacked by militants opposed to democracy: all are trials I could never
imagine happening in America.
It does make one realize that the right to vote should never be taken lightly.

I understand the convenience of the
optical scanner and the way it makes counting ballots faster. However, it could
prove to be an even greater challenge to encourage young people to vote. Unlike
going into a private booth, clicking levers and pulling the curtains open, this
new method of voting is void of excitement. What percentage of the young
population is really going to be motivated to do something that resembles a
standardized test?

Voting booth

Image via Wikipedia

Call me nostalgic, but today’s
voting equivalent leaves me feeling like Clark
Kent,
whose powers have been severely depleted by Kryptonite. I will continue to vote
every year, but I deeply regret that my own children will never get to
experience the sense of pride and power that every vote deserves.