Everyone who is lucky enough to be getting “older” looks back at some point and bemoans the way certain things have changed or are now done. It’s just an inevitable part of life.
I find myself sad, a touch nostalgic, and more than a little ticked off these days over how we as communities and a nation treat the sacred duty and privilege of voting — from both the perspective of the voters themselves and the officials and government entities who put forth the laws and regulations governing this relatively simple task.
When I was growing up, voting was not just an option available when I came of age. It was just a given that when I turned 21 (it changed to 18 the year I did) I would be participating. Everyone I knew voted, or at least claimed they did (records would likely prove many of them fibbed).
It was your job as a citizen. Once or sometimes twice a year you went to the local polling place — usually a school — and cast your ballot. It didn’t matter if there were exciting races for glamorous positions, or if every incumbent including the constables were unopposed. You found a way to vote even if you had to work, or watch the kids when they got home from school. You just did it.
Of course, we are now told “times have changed”. People tend to work further from home. Kids don’t walk to school much anymore, meaning parents are responsible for their transportation. Most families have working parents.
But seriously — how hard is it to get our collective butts to a polling place once or twice a year for the purpose of deciding what kind of a local community, state, and country we want to have? We offer such lame excuses (now get off my lawn).
There have been attempts to make voting “easier” for everyone. Some I applaud, such as automatic voter registration when you become of age, and the elimination of laws designed to make it harder for those economically disadvantaged to vote.
But give me a break with some of the others. Like voting on the web, because showing up in person is too much work (can you say “hacking”?). Or creating polling places where no one has to wait more than 1.2 seconds to cast a ballot, or travel more than a one-minute car ride.
We have trouble holding elections in schools these days because we have had to turn schools into high-security buildings to help prevent mass shootings. Those keep occurring largely because the people we keep electing won’t make even basic changes to make sure guns aren’t available like candy at a country store.
Voting isn’t hard — but caring is. And one is definitely a sign of the other. People who claim to actually give a crap but can’t be bothered to vote need to reevaluate their understanding of “giving a crap.”
Voting on a weekday? Too hard for working folks. Voting on a Saturday? Detracting from family weekends. Early voting? Not open enough hours.
Instead of just making voting easier, let’s start making it actually mean something.