I went to exercise my right to vote on November 5th.
I was denied that right.
I have never been to prison, convicted of a crime, or even had a traffic ticket. The only time I have even stepped into a court room was during my divorce, and the last I knew that was not a crime (the lawyers were criminal but that's another story).
I simply ceased to exist.
I realize these glitches in the system happen, but it is different when it happens to you. It becomes personal.
I registered to vote on my 18th birthday. I remember being so excited that I could vote and drink 3.2% beer. Not really understanding the political scene in spite of the required Government courses in school, I decided to be an Independent. I have remained one ever since only for the fact I did not want to be obligated to any particular party. I have voted in every election ever since. Until November 5th 2002.
I remember my first Presidential election well. Jimmy Carter versus Ronald Reagan. I was a young mother struggling during hard times and Reagan was the "Morning for America" after the long darkness of Jimmy Carter. A lot of people switched the party line during that election. Reagan made America whole again.
After Reagan had served the maximum allowed terms in the Oval Office, came the Bush versus Dukakais election. Gary Hart was the man of my choice then, but he suffered from "sexual improprieties" and withdrew from the race. If hindsight is 20/20, Hart would not have withdrawn because the American people love sexual escapades from their Commander-in-Chief as Clinton was to prove a few years later. (There are rumors that Gary Hart may run in 2004 --). That was the first election I opted for a write-in vote. Mickey Mouse was quite popular at that time.
Then came the Clinton-Bush-Perot campaign. Ross Perot was a straight talker and I loved his charts. But he only captured 20 percent of vote. Mine was among them.
Clinton reigned for his 8 year maximum term. George Will said it best when he stated "Bill Clinton may not be the worst President in history but he certainly was the worst man to ever be President". Enough said on that matter.
Enter the Bush Jr.- Al Gore election. Proved to us once and for all that nothing it as it seems. The election that changed many peoples minds about how much their vote really counts. Since my vote was not swayed one way or the other in the Florida mess, I remained optimistically naive that every vote matters.
Enter Election day 2002.
No Presidential seat was at stake in this election but something just as important was. Control of the House and Senate. As predicted, there were problems across the United States at the polls. Some minor and many major. Interestingly, in spite of all the chaos and confusion, winners were announced quick and easily. Republicans gained total control exactly as Bush needed.
The first election, since I turned 18 many years ago, that I didn't vote. I showed up but somehow my name didn't. Would my vote have changed the outcome? No, it would not have but the mere fact that a computer glitch took away my right to cast my vote for the candidates and issues I felt strongly about the most is a sobering experience. I wondered how many other citizens across the nation walked into their perspective county voting booths only to face a computer glitch.
The Fifteenth Amendment of the Constitution guarantees "the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."
I was denied by a computer.
We need to amend the Amendment for the Twenty-First century to say "the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude, computer glitches, un-calibrated touch screens, shortage of punch cards, precinct boundaries, redistricting, time limits or moronic poll workers".
I refuse to be denied again.