Among the few actions we, US citizens, are empowered and encouraged to do by our government to contribute to this great democracy is vote. Having voted just minutes ago, I am inclined to say that while we are empowered and encouraged – we are far, far from enabled. The process is a catastrophic nightmare.
My polling place was a local school cafeteria. Four lines stretched down the hallway, broken down by alphabetical last name, and encompassing representation of every social class and demographic within a 10 mile radius. Upon reaching a desk, a picture ID is used to find a sticker in a three inch thick binder, which is then placed in a ballot record book. We are then handed three sheets of paper with various items to vote on (mind you they are not already collated and ready to be disbursed – total cluster), and off we go with a little marker to do our handy work. I then spend several minutes reading through the various local and state issues to be voted on – many of which I feel inadequately informed of, and some are clearly propaganda fueled by personal or lobbied interests – state and federal monies being voted away because they are written to sound good on a ballot sheet where those uneducated on the issues will do ‘eeny-meeny-miny-mo’ (yes, this actually happens) to fill in their boxes. Turns my stomach.
Then, wait in yet another line to personally insert my ballot(s) into a scanning machine. Total process – over an hour.
Even more infuriating is that for the presidential election, our vote hardly matters, as we leave our fate in the hands of an electoral college.
Tonight’s exercise proved to be a good wake up call of how deeply troubled our entire system truly is. While we all sit and complain about so many issues, the truth is that ‘we the people’ are not given the means to actually make change. One might read this and say, “well. you did vote after all, so you can make change”. Yes, but look at how painful the process is, and it is largely due to dated technology and process.
In the horse and buggy days, people needed to assemble to voice opinions, and vote. Population was MUCH smaller, and it was a common occurrence to bring together the community at schools or churches for various assemblies. It just doesn’t work in 2012. Today, it easier to voice an opinion on a Blog much like this one and reach massive audiences, rather than attempt to organize and congregate. It is also far easier to enable and engage when the issues reach the people – rather than make the people step up to reach the issues. it’s just a different day and age, for better or worse.
For me anyway, I wouldn’t hesitate at all to vote actively on local, state, and federal issues much more routinely, and even on off-election times if it reached me much like any social or e-media. It’s not the way of the future, it is the way of today.
My voting experience today is akin to experiences at the Division of Motor Vehicles. What does that tell you? Government offices and events are ineffectively managed – and much beyond the point that they cannot produce results – it is to the extent that they cannot afford ‘we the people’ the power to make the necessary changes.
How to fix it all – I certainly do not have the answers. I can say however that in an Aquatic America, where the ‘blues’ are the brightest part of the day, not a funk from voting, we can start all over and do it the right way.
I will close with a quote from Mr. Christopher Columbus himself, “And the sea shall grant each man new hope”. What is here at our fingertips is lost – look out on the horizon.