Why I’m not voting

I get it onHappy Election Day.

I’m one of many people not voting. I know, people died for that right. I also know that I don’t like ritual for the sake of ritual, and my vote really doesn’t matter much. Especially in a district where there are not a lot of chances of an upset. I suppose I could register out of my office in Connecticut, but you know, voter fraud and all that. But rational choice does not explain my lack of casting a vote.

Nor does serious worries over the voting process. When I was in seventh grade, I wrote a program that allowed students to vote for student elections. People shuffled in to the voting machine (a Commodore 64–yes, I’m that young) and clicked on their candidates of choice. While writing the program, for a moment I realized the power involved. There was no paper record–I could change the election. I didn’t. Instead, in order to avoid any appearances of impropriety, I even abstained from voting. I only wish I had the confidence in today’s voting machines that I had in my own. But that’s not why I didn’t vote today.

I sent in my voter registration card twice after moving to Manhattan. Each time I got a new, blank voter registration card back in the mail. No note, no indication of why. I’m guessing it is because I kept telling them that I was already registered back in western New York. But, I thought, maybe they had me down and were just sending me a new form each time for some strange paperwork reason. My wife got her voter card in the mail, and an indication of where to vote. I waited. Nothing. I should have been more vigilant about it, and I’m sure I could try to do something (provisional ballot?) now. But the truth is that my velleity in combination with an apparent bureaucratic snafu has led to my soft disenfranchisement.

Maybe I just tried to register for the wrong party. I’m going to try registering Republican and see if it “sticks.” I’ve registered with all sorts of parties in the past–I’m a bit of a party hopper–but I’m about the right age to turn Republican. Besides, I dig the whole “small government” thing. Doesn’t seem to be a big part of the platform lately, but maybe I can help bring it back. Though registering Republican might interfere with being able to vote for this guy.

Update: I’m not the only one, though clearly the lazier!

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  1. M.
    Posted 11/7/2006 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    Dear Alex,

    I, too, am worrried about whether my vote will be counted properrly, but I continue to vote, and to work the polls as well when I am able, so that others can vote.

    I am not a New York City resident, but I suspect that they may have something called a “provisional” ballot. When you go to the polls, tell them that you wish to vote provisionally. They should allow you to vote and then “sleeve” or otherwise identify your ballot so that it will not be counted until your status as a voter is verified. The words – and even the procedures – may vary from state to state, but I can’t imagine a situation in which the Registrar of Voters would not permit this.

    Please try to vote, even as you doubt that you are making a difference. It is always better to keep possibilites open. Think about an absentee ballot next time. They seem to be a bit more traceable, and
    you can sit (or stand :>) ) at your desk with a cup of tea and take all the time you want to think about what you are doing.

    And lots of us who believe in Enlightenment ideals are actually (gasp!) registered Republicans.

    Your mom

  2. alex
    Posted 11/7/2006 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    Mom: Yes, there is an “affidavit ballot” (i.e. provisional ballot), but it requires that you swear that you are registered to vote. And I’m not at all certain whether or not I am. If they sent a voter card to my old house and it got returned “not at this address,” I think I would have been dumped from the voter rolls. I will get re-registered and probaly absentee, since that’s the way I voted for a period of several years; until the most recent elections, since NY is a bit stranger about that. But I think I have to sit this one out. And as I said, I doubt seriously that my vote for Tim Gunn is going to have much impact on the gubanatorial race.

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