Early and often

10Nov18

The Nov. 6 election is over.

Or was it the Nov. 2 election? Or the Oct. 30 election?

It all depends on if you voted early and on which day. Because now, every day is Election Day!

Election Day used to be special day. Not so much when you have 12 days to vote. When everybody voted on the same day, you had to at least make a mental note to get to the polls.

Now that we have two weeks to do it, what’s the urgency? You’ll get to it one of those days. No need to write it down, mark it on your calendar or set a reminder on your phone. You’ll remember. You have two weeks!

Then, suddenly it’s Nov. 7 (Where does the time go?) and, whoops, you forgot to vote.

Call me old-fashioned (or just call me old), but I plan to continue voting on Election Day.

I understand the convenience argument for early voting. No, I take that back. I don’t understand it. For the vast majority, voting on Election Day is no more convenient or inconvenient than voting on any other day. So why not just have everyone vote on Election Day?

The answer, as we now know, is that what has always worked just fine for virtually everyone is not good enough anymore.

Sure, every once in a blue moon you’re going to be out of town or expect to be extremely busy on Election Day. We’ve always had absentee ballots for those times. Even if you have no extenuating circumstances but just felt like voting absentee, no city or town clerk has ever waterboarded anyone to find out if their request for an absentee ballot was legit.

Elections happen at most a couple of times a year. And since I never found it to be an especially difficult or unpleasant exercise, I always looked forward to Election Day. It was something different to break up the daily routine. I liked seeing people holding signs near the polls. Voting was a communal activity that everyone did together, or at least on the same day.

Not anymore.

Call me sentimental, but I always take my sweet time filling out my ballot, trying to prolong the experience. I tend to feel mildly wistful as I check out and slide my completed ballot into the machine.

“Is that all there is?” I think to myself. Surely there must be more to exercising this fundamental constitutional right. Can I do it again? Please?

But no. I have to wait another six months, or even a year.

Maybe I’ll shave a couple of weeks off the wait by voting early next time!

Nah. Then what would I do on Election Day?

[This column originally appeared in the November 8, 2018 Wakefield Daily Item.]



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