Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Adventures in Voting

I made my way to the polling place, found parking (an adventure in itself) and even had stopped by my mail box on the off chance I got my voting card last minute (I didn’t). 

I clutched my government issued ID in hand and lined up to register to vote. Naturally I was not on the list and so I was sent to the “Voter Registration” table. Again, I dutifully lined up and waited my turn to register to vote. 

I have voted in every election that I have been eligible for, save one. There was an election for the village council in a small town that I lived in that I didn’t vote. The reason was that I only slept in this village, yet worked in a nearby city. I had not bothered to get to know the candidates or the issues. Since I had not informed myself, I felt that I had no right to vote. So to punish myself, I chose not to vote. This is how serious I take the civic duty of voting. 

As I stood in the voter registration line and awaited my fate I went over if I should just lie about my address. As you can understand, I did want to vote, and in in this pivotal election in particular. 

Eventually it was my turn and so I sat in the chair and presented my driver’s licence and my health care card. The nice lady picked up the driver’s licence and was about to start writing it down on the voters registration form. She looked up at me and asked “Is this current and accurate?”   

“Yes, and this is the only address I have,” I replied politely. 

The nice lady then looked back at the driver’s license again and then she saw it . . . “PO Box.” 

“Do you have any mail with your ‘real’ address on it?” she asked as she put the driver’s license down in front of me; essentially handing me back the offending and insufficient card.

“No,” I replied. My mood was starting to fall; I already knew how this would end. 

“We need some piece of ID or mail with your real address on it,” she said with hope in her eyes. Even then I could see that she was hoping that I would pull out some suitable piece of paper out of my back pocket. 

“Well, I’ll go look for one,” I remember saying politely as I stood up, nodded and left. 

“We will take any mail,” The nice lady called after me. 

I left the polling place disheartened as for the first time in my life I was refused the opportunity to vote, all because the government doesn’t know where I sleep. 

Again, I have said it before; I understand that you need to have a fixed address so that you can prove that I live within a certain riding. We are so fixated on having that little place that is yours; that place for you to return to at the end of the day. We have institutionalized the fact that you are indeed nothing if you have no fixed address.

As always, I will continue, I will survive, I will carry on and I will get through this chapter of my life. Sooner or later I know that I will have that little place that is mine, that little piece of ground to call my own. Then, I can vote again, until then, I can’t.

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