UNITED STATES—Last week was the primary election for my state and I was fully prepared to vote. I had hoped to head to the polls in the early hours just because I hate waiting in lines and didn’t want to deal with any chaos that likely ensues later in the day. With a recent move, it does create a few problems, because you have to ensure that you are registered and you know your polling location.
I received my voting registration card in the mail, with my new polling location so I suspected I would have no problem. Oh, was I ever wrong. First, I didn’t arrive to my polling location until about 1 hour before the polls were set to close. On top of that, I suspected the turnout would be slightly lower, but it was quite crowded with people eager and ready to vote, especially the youngsters. Yep, I had never seen so many teens and first-time voters at the polls. Way more than what was present back in 2008 when President Barack Obama won the presidency.
This polling location was a complete mess. For starters, there were like 4 lines. None properly labeled; I had NO IDEA as to what line I was to stand in. Of course, I thought it was the line where my precinct was labeled on my voter registration card. I stand in that line for about 15 minutes, to come to find out I’m supposed to be in another line. So I move into that line, and I’m waiting for another 15 minutes. I finally get to the pollsters who are looking up my information, um, we have a problem; they can’t FIND MY NAME. Ok, they already have my identification card, so I also provided them with my voter registration card because my instinct told me to bring it.
Nope, they still can’t find my name, its already 7:45 p.m. and time is a ticking. So I’m then deferred to the head lady in charge at the location. She was bickering slightly with someone about the fact that they were short-staffed; they were running out of election forms and a bunch of other issues. This is a complete nightmare, I mean nightmare. I’ve been voting since I turned 18 and I never had such a situation happen to me. I was floored, at a loss of works and just furious. I’m then forced to sit by this woman’s phone as she called the county clerk to see what the issue is with my name.
We’re on hold for like 10 minutes, and the county clerk says yep, he’s a registered voter and I’m about to get my ballot, but wait, the clerk made a mistake and informs the lady that I was to be voting at my previous polling location before I moved. I’m livid; I said I have a voter registration card right here that tells me WHERE MY POLLING LOCATION is. If my location was to be otherwise, why in the hell was I not notified that at all in the mail by the county clerk? Someone dropped the ball and I’m furious.
I was then told I’d have to go to my old location to cast my ballot. My mind freaks, its 7:55 p.m., there is no way in hell that I’m going to make it across the other side of town in time to cast my ballot. Frustrated, upset, I can go on with a bevy of words to describe just how I feel, I just abandoned ship.
Plenty in my family were stunned when I told them I couldn’t vote, so much to the point that issues of filing a complaint or grievance about not being able to vote should be brought to attention. I thought about it, but with the fact of me having to work a midnight threw me off my game. It has been a little over a week, and my gut is telling me I just had to voice this tale because I’d hate for anyone else to experience or have to encounter what I encountered.
The right to vote is a fundamental right and I was deprived of it last week because someone yet again didn’t properly perform their job. Was it intentional? I sure hope not, but the fact of the matter is a registered voter was deprived of voting and I’ll be damned if I ever let this happen to me again or anyone else I know who is a registered voter. Shame on the polling location, the city that I live in and the state that I live in because you made mistakes across the board and it only worries me more that come November 2016 rather everything will be in place to prevent further stress when I head to the polls to vote.