Thursday, October 22, 2009

But I don't *want* to vote by mail

This year, everyone who lives in New Jersey will be allowed to vote by mail. You don't need to show that you'll be out of the state on Election Day or that it would be a hardship for you to get to the polls; you don't need a reason at all, in fact. Anyone, for any reason, can vote by mail.

Now, I'm all for making voting more accessible. And I'm sure for some people it is a lot more convenient to vote in the comfort of their own home than to get themselves to a polling place. But me, I like to go to the polls. To me, it doesn't really feel like I've voted unless I've gone into the little booth and pushed the buttons. (I liked it even better when we had the old mechanical machines where you could twist the lever and it made a nice satisfying clunk. But even the electronic machines are more satisfying, to me, than writing out my vote on a piece of paper and dropping it in the mail.)

So, fine. If others want to vote from home, they can vote from home; if I want to go to the polls, I can go to the polls. The only problem is, New Jersey's Democratic party seems to be doing everything in its power to stop me.

First, I got a vote-by-mail application in the mail. (You have to fill out the application first, and then you get the actual ballot sent to you.) I was mildly surprised that the state seemed to be going to such lengths to make people aware of this new voting option, but I figured it didn't matter to me. I just tossed it in the bin.

Then I got a second application. And I also started getting phone calls--dozens of them. A recorded message on the other end informs me that this is the Democratic Party calling, and warns me urgently that TIME IS RUNNING OUT to send in my vote-by-mail application, and urges me to mail it in without delay. It started to sound like they were trying to convince me that this was the only way to vote, and that if I didn't mail in this application, I would never get the chance to vote at all. And I realized that someone less familiar with the voting process would probably get just that impression. I mean, you get this official-looking document in the mail, and it says, "Fill this out to get your vote-by-mail ballot," and nowhere on it does it say, "If you do not get a vote-by-mail ballot you may still cast your vote at your local polling place," and you think, "Oh my God, we all have to vote by mail now? I didn't know that!"

Well, look, making voting more accessible is one thing. But why on earth are New Jersey's Democrats trying to convince everyone to vote from home, whether they want to or not? Why are they going so far as to send misleading messages implying that voting from home is the only option? Why in God's name does my party want to stop people from going to the polls?

I don't know for sure if there's anything that could convince me to stop voting for Democrats. But this is definitely testing my limits.

No comments: