Friday, October 08, 2004

A very Important Task

I have the feeling that normal service has yet to be resumed. It's kind of the way you feel right after Christmas (or, in Scotland- New Year, since the party goes on until 2 January).

Just as you start enjoying yourself and relaxing a bit, deciding it's OK to sleep until 11 am, then wander around in your jimjams, watching crap telly and dipping into boxes of truffle-filled chocolates whilst pouring bottles of brandy down your throat, it's time to go back to work. Ugh. I have yet to finish unpacking, doing laundry, paying the bills, returning phone calls, tending to the withered plants, hoovering up the dust bunnies from under the bed or reading the rest of my bloglist. Bleh.

To compound my general meh-ness, I have picked up a bug on the flight home (or possibly while on holiday- running around that last night in my little strappy top despite the chill). I have scratchy throat and croaky voice. The plan is for me to lie in a little ball in my bed for 48 hours straight this weekend, arising periodically only to do various chores, like put another load of washing on. E. has promised to bring me cups of tea at regular intervals and not make me go to the grocery store.

There is however one essential task I must do. Fill in and post my absentee ballot. The envelope was waiting for me upon our arrival home, and yesterday I finally got around to opening it. I've put it to one side for the moment, figuring that I needed a day or two to reflect deeply upon matters. Such a big decision ahead. It's a tough choice, one that has kept me awake at night, pondering.

Will I vote for John Kerry with the blue pen or the black pen? Or perhaps, the racy number 2 pencil?

OK, I might make light of it, but it is important. Perhaps even more so, given the confession I am about to make. You see, unlike some , who proceeded to actually follow through on their carefully made decision, (albeit one which they may have regretted later), I...well....I....

I'll just say it. Election 2000. I filled in the ballot, then failed to mail it. Repeat, I failed to mail my absentee ballot .

Lame ass excuse? Well, I may have mentioned before that I have this real loathing of posting things. Going to the post office here is just an ordeal that I avoid, wherever possible, especially if it involves standing in line behind people who feel the need to explain their endless life story to the pond-water speed clerk as they carry out whatever it is that seems to take up nine hours, or at best, my entire lunch break.

Mailing the ballot would involve getting stamps to go to America, which means going to the post office. So the envelope sat on my hall table, and eventually, I decided it was too late (though it may not have been) and threw it away.

Now. That would be bad enough, but then it got a whole lot worse.

Because I am registered to vote in Florida. As I was in Election 2000.

That year, I watched from afar in increasing horror the events unfolding before me. As the lawyers waded in and the mudslinging began, I began having nightmares that it came down to just one or two votes difference between Gore and Bush, and then someone discovered that I hadn't posted my ballot, and the fingers of accusation would point harshly my way. Now, I know there is still debate about the final numbers. But it appears to me that in the big scheme of things, the margins were close enough for me to put my head in my hands for the next four years, cringing. What had I done? Or more important, what I had I not done.

It wasn't just even as if I had gone to the polls, and accidentally voted for the wrong person by misreading the buttefly ballot. It was that I hadn't gotten off my fat ass and posted an envelope! I hadn't cared enough to exercise my precious democratic right to vote, a right which the United States generously continues to bestow upon me for federal elections, even though I live overseas. A right that was arbitrarily taken away from some, in error, by the disenfranchisement which went on in Florida (and perhaps elsewhere for all I know) before the election. A right that people have fought and died for.

This is not intended to be a political rant. I had vaguely decided awhile back that while I would generally keep my political views more or less to myself (unless they encroach into reproductive rights, which are of importance to me but which I have not yet really gotten into in my posts). I felt partly like this wasn't really the platform for me to talk about politics, at least not in the broad sense, and partly because I feel like so many other people say it so much better.

But this is not about my political stance. It's about recognising that 4 years ago, I was limp and pathetic, feeling like it didn't really make a difference whether I went to get a stamp. I'm ashamed, because... well, as it happens, it may have made a very big difference. I'm not saying that I, Mare, would have singularly changed the course of American history. But that election was such a revelation to me- how all the individual voices do mount up, how each vote does have some weight.

How it matters.







15 Comments:

At 7:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

4 more years of the Shrub?? God help us!
Bet 'cha won't forget this year. Welcome back.
Jen/Vintage Uterus

 
At 8:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I personally think this bi-partisan situation we have is crap. I hate, hate, hate it!! So for the last 2 elections, I have gone with the dark horse third party candidate. I have heard all about how I threw away my vote in 2000 - repeatedly. In retrospect, I'm not sure I would go back and change my vote. However.....this year I am not voting for a third party candidate. I want my voice to be heard in a different way this election...

Happy voting, Mare!

Moogielou

 
At 8:42 PM, Blogger Anna H. said...

Yep, it does matter.

Especially this year.

Hope you have a great, rejuvenating weekend -- AFTER YOU GO TO THE POST OFFICE!

xxoo

 
At 9:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

YOU GOT YOUR BALLOT?!?!?!?!

Where the hell is mine?! :(

I hope you have a mellow, tea-and-biscuit filled weekend, complete with dumb movies and lots o' sleep.

 
At 9:21 PM, Blogger lobster girl said...

Yes it does indeed matter. God help us all if W is re-elected. Maybe you could take some of that brandy that you've had to forego since your return with you when you go to the post office. That should make the wait more tolerable, eh?

And get thee to bed! Hope you feel better soon.

 
At 9:44 PM, Blogger Jen said...

First, I hope you feel better soon.

Second, I am glad to know I am not the only one suffering from absentee vote guilt--I'm ashamed to say it, but in '96, I didn't bother to mail my ballot from college. Not as high of stakes as the last election, but still, guilt over my laziness plagues me to this day. It is an important and unique right--thanks for the reminder.

Perhaps as a solution, we could each have 2 votes this year?

 
At 9:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

bj, purpleaster@comcast.net

 
At 11:32 PM, Blogger Heather said...

Amen, sister! I could never have said it so well myself (as usual).

By the way, I missed you. I spent many long hours writing haikus in your absence, occassionally treating my delighted husband to recitations over dinner. Good times, I tell you. Good times.

 
At 1:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've got a roll or two of US stamps I could send to you (left over from hubby's ex-job) :) Whatever you do, don't get coffee (er, tea) stains on it. Apparently stained ballots are grounds for invalidation (pun intended) and I wouldn't put anything past brother Jeb's elections supervisors.

 
At 1:34 AM, Blogger chris said...

Apparently in 2000, a number of absentee ballots were sent in too late, but they were counted. This presumably benefitted the republicans because most absentee ballots come from servicemen overseas, who tend to vote republican (because, as we've seen, the republicans have really taken care of their interests?). Anyway, they probably would have found some way to discount your ballot anyway because you undoubtedly wouldn't have voted for Chimpy.

What really scares me is that Florida apparently still has many of the same problems they had in 2000, in particular, Jeb Bush.

As an aside, my ex-husband had a job which gave him very close proximity to a FL republican governor. At the time, Papa Bush was in the White House and, I guess because of this, Jeb Bush got to hang around the governor's office in FL, where he was generally regarded as an idiot, even by the cleaning people. I met him once at a kids' party, playing santa. He was a complete and utter moron. I left FL a few years later, didn't keep up with local politics, and one day I find out he's governor? The guy everyone laughed at and humored because of his daddy? That's one messed up state.

Glad you're back. Hope you feel better.

 
At 2:18 AM, Blogger DeadBug said...

Blue pen, for sure.

Now we just need him to mop the floor with Shrub in tonight's debate.

Enjoy the bedrest as best you can...but I'm sure I'm not alone in hoping that the boredom drives you to post once or twice, my snuffly friend!

--Bugs

 
At 6:30 AM, Blogger Meh said...

No opinion really (except that I think GW is an asshat), but just wanted to say GLAD YOU ARE BACK.

*smooch*

 
At 7:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First, yes, I know the pain of returning to work after a long vacation. As a teacher, at the end of August, I can actually hear the bell "tolling for me." You'd think I'd be all spry and ready to jump back in. Nope. And I usually still have dust bunnies under the couch too. Even after 2 months off. It's pathetic.

Second, after living in Europe for awhile myself, I also know how dreadful it is to go to the post office. But, as you know, we need you! the polls right now are showing things a little too close for my comfort! Yikes. Take care. Heidi http://lostandfinding.typepad.com/

 
At 5:52 PM, Blogger Menita said...

If anything, things could get even worse this time around - according to Newsweek and the AP, there is the potential for multiple Floridas this time around: http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=694&ncid=718&e=9&u=/ap/20041011/ap_on_el_pr/provisional_voting
So...go get those stamps :)

 
At 9:15 PM, Blogger April said...

I live in Broward and work in Miami-Dade. Please, for the love of G-d/Allah/Jesus/Zeus/Deity/Goddess of your choice mail the ballot. I'm a recovering Republican, and thankfully I can limit my shame to voting in Texas last election, but this year... I'm a registered Democrat trying to recruit as many votes as possible. And welcome back. We've missed you.

 

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