I'm the type of person who likes to know what they're getting into before they get into it. I don’t like to feel rushed when making decisions, and I like to take my time to think about things.
Voting is one of those situations that has always felt like a chore. I’ve been doing this for about eight years, and it has never been fun. Sure, I get my “I Voted” sticker, and can tweet about it or post it to Instagram or whatever, but honestly, who cares?
And if I get a day off, I’m not going to feel like leaving the house. But once I do eventually make my way to my designated polling place – assuming it hasn't changed again, and I won't be left confused in an empty parking lot – I feel sweaty and out of place. Am I giving them the workers the right information? Am I giving them too much information? Am I in the right line? Is it my turn yet? Wasn’t I waiting before that lady?
Then comes the actual process of voting. I try to do my due diligence and research the people on the ballot before going to the polls. But there are so many people, how can I actually be expected to remember who’s who?
I hate going to vote. But I know I should, so I go anyway.
My experience with voting hasn’t been the most enjoyable. But there are people who have it even worse; some people find it difficult to find their polling place, or to get to them. Some people can’t afford to take off work to get to the polls in time. Some people don’t have the time or resources to research every candidate.
For voting to be such an important facet of being a good, civil American – whatever that means – it should be a much easier, much more enjoyable, way more accessible experience.
We all know how voting works – you pick the people whose ideals align the best with your own, and hopefully enough like-minded individuals will also pick those people to represent you all. But what happens when people can’t make those picks? What happens to a group of like-minded people who don’t have access or the tools they need to vote effectively? Voting becomes an inefficient and unfair process. There have been stories circulating about different methods of voter suppression happening in multiple corners of the country, and many people have been sharing why they’ve been discouraged from voting.
New York is a state *without* early voting, mail-in ballots, or no-excuse absentee.
You can only cast a ballot from 6am-9pm. Election Day isn’t a holiday.
When pollsites break down, it has enormous consequences for election turnout.
Enough. We need voting reform in New York. https://t.co/TzvbAroXJX
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) November 6, 2018
Today, U.S. House candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shared a tweet about the difficulties New Yorkers are facing trying to vote, given their limited options. There are so many complex issues involved in our current electoral system; the most basic solution to giving voters a fair chance is to give them accessible options.
I opted to complete a mail-in ballot for this year’s midterm elections; it will be my second mail-in ballot that I’ve done. If I can help it, I don’t think I’ll ever go back to physically going to vote when I know this is an available option. I don’t have to worry about showing up to the wrong place, or taking time off, or spending a day off moping about having to leave the house. Best of all, I can take my time. I can go through each candidate and take the time to learn who best represents me and my values. I can learn what I’m getting into before I get into it. And, this year, they sent me an “I Voted” sticker with my ballot. Wins all around.
Ideally, one day we’ll develop the proper technology and security for remote e-voting. We're all on our phones all the time, and, as someone who does practically everything from my phone anyway, I think it would be super-convenient to use it as a voting device. Until then, utilizing methods like the mail-in ballot or early voting can be helpful for a lot of voters, and we should be pushing for these options in places where they aren't currently available. Voting will never be fun; there’s no way to polish that turd. But making it a more accessible experience eases a lot of potential and real anxieties that people have about the voting process.
P.S. Here are a few resources that may be useful in case you haven't yet voted and want a little guidance:
- Find your polling place here
- Find who/what will be on your particular ballot here
- Find info on Cook County judges here
If these aren't sufficient, Google is an amazing tool. Happy voting!