It Wasn’t Easy

Thursday I voted early. It was my third attempt and the fifth “maneuver” I had to make in order to cast my ballot. It was a lot of things; easy wasn’t one of them!

My wife and I are living in a different county than we were living in during the last election. That necessitated obtaining new identification and reregistering to vote. To complicate matters we are only temporarily residing at our current address. The only type of photo ID we could get was a North Carolina driver’s license. We were able to obtain that by simply changing our address online. In that process we were offered the opportunity to reregister. We thought that was great – “one stop shopping”! We were in for a surprise.

After a bit, we received letters from the Wake County Board of Elections informing us that they could not process our registration application because we had failed to answer several questions. The interesting part was that those questions had never been posed online. Keep in mind we were simply doing an address change. Some of the questions included age, race and gender. While gender can change, (but didn’t in our cases), things like age and race certainly don’t. We were simply changing our address due to moving. Approximately 37 million Americans move annually –some of them in North Carolina – this is far from unusual.

On October 3rd my wife came out of a boot from a broken ankle. That day we went to the only location for registration in Wake County (population of over 1 million) which is in downtown Raleigh. Parking is such that we had to walk about five blocks. We registered in person.

Thursday October 20th was the first day of early voting in North Carolina I went to one of the nine sites in Wake County. Voting started at 9am and I arrived at about that hour. There are a series of large parking lots accompanying the facility all were completely full. There were scores of cars parked on both sides of the street and auxiliary police had to be employed to direct traffic. The line was massive. I decided to leave and try to vote another time.

On Monday October 24th I repeated basically the same process and when the police told me the lot was full and I’d have to attempt to find a parking place on the street I glanced at the line which was about as long as it had been the previous Thursday. I decided to try again another day.

Last Thursday North Carolina expanded the number of early voting sites. After completing some volunteer work I do for a non-profit I decided to give it a try at about 2pm. There were some parking places in the lot and the line looked almost reasonable. About 40 minutes of waiting outside and I was finally admitted into the building. Once inside the process took about another 10 minutes. (It was longer for most people. I had the foresight to print out a sample ballot and mark my selections so all I had to do was copy.)

Keep in mind I’m a white male. Those demographics are not targets of voter suppression. I am also college educated and very familiar with both the registration and voting process. If the questioner process is too “complicated” for me what about the guy or gal who didn’t have the opportunities I did?

Also remember that I’m retired. That means that I have the time to carve out hours to vote and can go to the polls basically any time of the day or day of the week. Younger people who are working, often more than one job, cannot say the same thing.

The radical Republicans who currently control Raleigh made it difficult for me to vote for a reason. That reason is called voter suppression. I had the resources and determination to overcome the barriers. One of my motivations was to vote against several of those radicals. The way to rid ourselves of this scourge is to vote them out. I don’t care if it takes multiple attempts; please vote!

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