07 November 2006


I absolutely love voting and loved casting my ballot this morning. I loved it even more when my friend wrote to me from Guyana, where she recently served as an OAS election observer:

Outfitted with snazzy caps, shirts, and bags, we fanned out with the rest of democracy’s SWAT team into different districts, armed with clipboards and paired up with a partner....

We spent over twenty hours trudging around to a couple dozen polling stations each, battling through heat and torrential downpours, asking questions, asking directions, and filling out our paperwork by the side of the dusty roads. It was a long day, but an incredible one, too.

As an American, I’ve always had certain images of democracy—election year conventions, the League of Women Voters, campaign ads, what have you. But democracy is quite a different picture for me now. Democracy is one hundred and twenty three paper ballots tipped out onto a table with a red-checked cover, in a shabby schoolroom in a poor country, waiting to be counted and added to the grand tally that will decide the next government. Democracy is people with occupations I last saw in a Dickens’ novel or a history of slavery (charwoman, cane cutter) lining up at a quarter to six in the dark, waiting for the sun to come up and the poll to open.

I was humbled. How can we account for not voting? How do you explain to somebody who has stood in line for an hour in the beating sun that in our country, the turnout numbers go down if it drizzles?

I saw two men with filiarsis-swollen legs on Election Day, one of whom I saw cast his ballot. He limped in, his foot and lower leg engorged and infected, and made his mark. And thus became, at least for the moment, not a diseased leper, but an enfranchised elector. Please, cast your vote on Tuesday.

Go vote - not only is it a responsibility and an obligation but it's fun and rewarding!

1 comment:

Naoko said...

looks like great news for you american democrats so far. great news for my housemate's brother in law tonight too, winning the giller prize!