Tomorrow's the oath ceremony for my US citizenship. The letter informing me of the time and date was amusing, reminding me that this is a serious and solemn event - no jeans, t-shirts, or flip-flops. I've got a dress all picked out.
I've been a permanent resident for 25 years, so it's hard to imagine actually being able to vote. I count myself lucky to be in an enlightened state that mandates vote-by-mail, because Native Americans are still being systematically disenfranchised in South Dakota. If they want to vote early, they have to travel off-rez to do so. Voting on-rez is day-of only. SD's Secretary of State wants to ask the Election Access Council for help (by means of Helping Americans Vote Act money) getting on-rez early voting, but the EAC's been literally an empty suit with a backlog of requests extending several years. It makes him look like he's doing something when he's sent it off to the dead letter office.
It's always infuriating to me to see people discounted, marginalized, otherized because of who they are. And voting is a right in this country that is treated like a privilege. I find myself wary of becoming a part of this mess. By not being a citizen, I get to hold myself outside the fray. That's starting to wear thin, and frankly sounds ridiculous. "Sorry, can't vote, but I did donate for Obama and have his bumper-sticker on my Subaru."
Everything worth doing is difficult and often messy. And I love messy, if the state of my house is any indication. But there has got to be an easier way. I watched hubby vote by mail in November's election, and it was the easiest thing. No lines, no other people, drop it in the mail when you're done. He had the option of reading over the ballot information at his leisure, read up on issues on the internet while the ballot was in front of him, ask me what I thought. (I never unduly influenced his position. We just ask each other's opinion about everything.) And there was no "gatekeeper". There were no "elections officials" sitting at a folding table, staring into a hanging chad like it was the pit of hell. No judgy-judgerson deciding who votes and who goes home. It takes us a few more days to get our results back, but I think it's worth the trade-offs.