As I wrote yesterday’s post asking people to vote for my blog in the Black Weblog Awards’ semi-final nominations round, I had to reflect on something:
I’ve skipped out on voting before.
And the elections I skipped out on were for government seats, not blog accolades.
I can specifically remember walking home on a cold, dark evening that is November in the Northeast, pausing at the corner where my building huddled against another building as if to ward off the cold, and thinking that I could either trudge to the nearby school and vote or walk home.
I walked home.
I was tired. I had worked a long day. It wasn’t a federal election. That’s what I told myself as I shrugged out of my ankle length coat minutes later and probably warmed up some mint tea on the stove (knowing me).
I knew I wasn’t doing my “duty” as a citizen, but I also knew I was the norm. We as Americans don’t tend to show up in droves at the polls.
Now here I am in Venezuela, and I am determined to vote in this year’s mid-term elections even when I didn’t always drag my behind to the polls when they were less than a mile away from my apartment.
Why the change?
In a nutshell, voter ID laws. As has been reported in media sources as varied as tiny newspapers distributed at my local YMCA to Essence magazine, voter ID laws negatively impact people of color.
Is it a coincidence that the push for voter IDs at the polls began after the nation elected its first Black president? I would like to think it is, but my law school friend laid it all out for me on our two hour bus trip from New York City to Philadelphia.
In other words, my mind says this is not a coincidence.
Come to think of it, current petitions for more stringent voter ID laws would have negatively impacted me too some years ago…and I happen to fit into the racial group these laws harm the most: African-American.
1.) I didn’t get a driver’s license until I was in my second year of college. When in high school, my mother said I had to choose between her paying for dance team or paying for driver’s ed. My family couldn’t afford both. I chose dance team because I knew I wouldn’t be getting a car anyways.
I didn’t get a state-backed ID until I started having trouble at the airports when attempting to fly with just my school ID, the only ID I possessed. If I had attempted to vote with that same school ID, I would’ve been turned away in some states.
2.) I didn’t get a passport until I was past voting age. Again, that’s another ID I wouldn’t own that would have granted me access to the polls.
But I’m an American citizen. I’m not a felon (which is a whole ‘nother issue because I strongly disagree with felons losing their rights to vote). I just want to vote.
Why all the hoopla now about needing to verify ID? Was there some big voter fraud that I missed out on? I think not.
Consequently, when the State Department e-mailed its overseas citizens reminding us to register for absentee balloting, I jumped on it. My application was faxed to my home state of Texas–which we all know is right there in the middle of the nonsense with voter ID laws–and it was approved.
I can’t lie. I purposely did not state my race on the application because I didn’t want any foolishness.
I just wanted to make a few forefathers (and current day people) upset by exercising a right they never wanted me to posses in the first place, my right to vote.
If you need to register for absentee voting, click here.