i knew that i would be out of town on election day, so i sent off the paperwork to vote in absentia several weeks ago. and then surprise -- i never recieved anything. no ballot, nothing. and i wasn't the only one. there have been some strange snags that have found american citizens flying back home to vote. new york's system is especially antequated. i couldn't afford to be amongst their ranks. i called the new york board of elections and i kept calling until i got an actual person on the line. she was effusive, upbeat and way too happy to help me. as it turned out, they were located on houston and varick, they would be open until 9pm, and they would stay open every day all weekend and on monday, the last day that they could accept any in absentia ballots.
my friend and i braved the freakshows on the streets and made our way from west harlem to houston and varick, then waited for less than 30 minutes in a dingy room filled with those hard plastic school chairs you have to squeeze into to sit in, with way too much flourescent lighting and trash everywhere. it was over in no time. i celebrated by going to a costume party and staying up all night, packing.
knowing how white men in this country have historically worked so hard to disenfranchise anyone not like them from the voting process. knowing that such people are still working hard to keep certain people from the polls -- like ex-felons, for example. (almost 5 million of them won't be able to vote this year. if you pay taxes, you should be able to vote, period. but i digress.) knowing what my 92 year old daddy's parents and their families went through, in south georgia and south carolina -- how they were systematically excluded and shut out of the political process. knowing that he and my mother voted as soon as they opened the polls in georgia -- them and every other black anybody that i can think of. knowing that the system is so corrupt, its a wonder that anything gets done. knowing that the electoral college elects the president, not individual voters. knowing that more than 40% of eligible voters didn't vote in the last election. knowing that some people won't vote because they think that not voting is voting. knowing the bradley effect. knowing how racist so many good americans really are. knowing that no matter how many black people are breaking out the champagne glasses and celebrating in the streets and in our haphazard chats with each other, he's not elected yet.
so now here i sit, watching sarah palin on cnn as she casts her vote and yammers away, spewing these pro-american jingoistic talking points like a trained parrot, and i wonder.
it'll all be overwith by 9pm tonight.
let us pray.