Believe it or not, one of my girlfriends and I made going to vote a girlfriend gathering. We both like to vote during the early voting period, so we would decide on a date and take a long lunch break from the office to vote and share lunch together. Since we are both female and African-American, voting is important to us because we realize it took two heroic movements (Women’s Rights and Civil Rights) to give us that right.
We enjoy seeing all of the people out voting especially during the early voting period because it is an indicator of possible attendance during the general election day. However, on one of our past voting gatherings we endured an experience that was a test to our patience and really had a negative impact on me.
On this particular day, there was a long line for early voting. Every voting day was a long line because it was during the 2008 Presidential election and then Senator Barack Obama was the Democratic candidate. We knew the waiting period would be long so we stood patiently chatting. We noticed an elderly African-American woman, easily in her late 70’s or early 80’s, standing in the line ahead of us. My friend was called in with a group before me to vote and left me in the line. I was standing near the security desk so I started chatting with the young African-American female security guard. I noticed another African-American woman, easily in her 50’s, standing near the security desk but not in the voting line.
The young security guard commented to me that she would be glad when the general election was over because she had been working extended hours during the early voting period. Suddenly, the other woman commented that she would be glad when the election was over, too. She went on to say that she wanted no part of this “mess” and the only reason she was there was because her mother insisted on coming and could not drive. I realized that the elderly woman we noticed previously was her mother.
Anger rose up in me and I was speechless – which is unusual for me! I know I gave that woman a look of disgust before I turned to the young security guard to reply. I told her just to have a little more patience with the voters because so many people had struggled, suffered and died for us just to have the right to be there. I told her to think of the journey of her ancestors and with that comment I turned to give that ignorant woman one last look of contempt before I stepped forward in the line.
It is in my nature to reason with those who may suffer from a lack of knowledge but there was nothing to redeem with this woman. Her elderly mother was determined that she was going to cast her vote for the soon-to-be first African-American President. She had the tenacity to badger her ignorant and unwilling daughter to bring her to vote. Yet, the daughter stood 3 feet from the voting line and refused to vote. I often wonder if I could have said something to encourage her to get in that voting line.
I know there are many of our citizens in an apathetic state about our government and choose not to vote. It may not be you but I know that most of us know at least one person in this state. I want to challenge you to encourage them to vote. Remind them of the birth and history of our country. Remind them of the struggles of some citizens just to attain the right to vote. Let us strive to replace apathy with civic duty in our communities.
I hope all that read this post are active voters. If not, please reconsider.
What do you feel about the voting process?
How do you feel about your right to vote?