The One Time I Couldn’t

There are a lot of things you need to do when you move from one state to another. There are all the obvious things like connect the utilities, forward your mail, give your mom the new phone number. And the not so obvious things. Like registering to vote. Ah, you already know where this is going, don’t you?

Ten years ago, during a presidential election year no less, I was not registered to vote. Oh, I was old enough, and had a clean criminal record and proof of citizenship. But we had just moved. Ok, so we had moved eleven months and three weeks prior to the election, but it seemed like just yesterday. I was working full-time, the kids were little and had to be driven everywhere, and life was hectic. And I didn’t really forget, exactly, I just hadn’t gotten around to it yet. The election was still weeks away and I took for granted there was plenty of time. No problem.

Until one day, someone on the radio said they hoped everyone had remembered to register to vote because it was now officially too late.

Too late? And I had not registered. I went that very day, hoping maybe I’d heard wrong and it wasn’t too late. Maybe they’d make an exception. Nope. No mistake, no exceptions. Oh, I registered all right. Just too late.

I spent weeks kicking myself and feeling horrible. Like a criminal. Disenfranchised. I never thought I’d use that word, it sounds so corny, but it is very accurate. Until then, I had voted in every election since the day I turned eighteen. Sometimes my votes were misguided — driven solely by party loyalty or influenced by factors other than the issues — and sometimes they were pitifully uninformed or cynically apathetic. But I had never before failed to exercise my right to vote.

Election day rolled around and it seemed everyone I saw, even complete strangers in the elevator, asked me whether I had voted. Unable to admit my own stupidity and unwilling to lie, I told everyone I usually voted on the way home from work. Which was true. Just not that year.

So, go ahead and ask me today. I will answer: “Hell yes, I voted. Did you?”

Because I remember all too clearly the one time I couldn’t.


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5 responses to “The One Time I Couldn’t

  1. McB

    People around the world wonder why more American’s don’t vote when its such a precious right. Well we take it for granted, that’s why. We’ve never known a time when we weren’t allowed to speak out, when we were silenced and our thoughts and opinions were stomped down.

    Plus we get discouraged because all the candidates seem like such bad choices, and because we tried to make a difference last time and look how that turned out.

    I have always voted too. And I will today, on my way home … HONEST! Because its more important than ever now.


  2. rssasrb

    Yep voted. And there is a larger turnout than usual.

    I vote even when I don’t like either candidate. I wrote in a name once in a presidential election because it was important to me to register my dissatisfaction with the other candidates.


  3. Jen-t

    I voted. Now I have the right to complain.


  4. Scope Dope Cherrybomb

    Amen. I vote in every election too. We have one coming up on Monday. It is a municpal election and it is an important one because half the town is up in arms about a move the council made without consulting the citizens. Unfortunately probably only half the town will vote, even with a contentious issue. But all of the town will complain.

    I too firmly believe that if you don’t vote, keep your mouth shut. Exercise your franchise. My dad pounded that into me as a kid. I don’t forget.


  5. Anonymous

    First a thank you for your insight on responding to our DIL and her question of what to say to her friend regarding her book. I hope I did not sound harsh as I certainly did not mean to be, just frustrated by the situation.
    Your former blog and your questions posed were interesting. I thought about the authors I like and read. What about them do I enjoy. Just a few that I like…Margaret Maron,Kathy Reichs,Nancy Bartholomew,Kay Hooper,Linda Howard,Diana Gabaldon,Barbara Parker,Ayelet Waldman,Laura Lippman,Carol O’Connell,Dana Stabenow,Faye Kellerman,SEP, and of course Jennifer Crusie. I find all of them honest in what they write. I’m not sure how to explain what that means. After reading what they have said, I find during the next day or week thinking about what was said in the story and how the situation relates to our everyday.
    This is why I am a reader and not a writer. Thankfully so many others are so gifted.