I received something in the mail about a week ago. It said it was from the town clerk’s office, and that it was their attempt to verify my address. If I didn’t mail it back in time, it said, I would not be able to vote today. There was no return postage on it, so I would have to provide the stamp, which annoyed me, but also made me briefly question its validity. I then decided the missing postage was just some super-cheap, tax-starved government situation. I was leaving town for the AWP, though, and was rushing, and I left it on my counter in my kitchen, where it greeted me when I returned. I walked into the kitchen and slapped my head. The deadline, I remembered, had passed.
I went through yesterday depressed, feeling a little shut in by my sense that I couldn’t vote. That I’d screwed that up. I experienced a moment of thinking, well, at least I…and then I thought, very firmly, No. That’s wrong, actually. I need to try harder to vote. So I put the document in my messenger bag and went to my department meeting, having decided I’d just present it at the polls, if anyone made an issue of it. After the meeting, I had a drink with my friend and colleague in creative writing here, Daniel Hall, and he mentioned he’d gotten the same letter and had likewise chastised himself for now being unable to vote. We both thought it was just too strange, so we approached an Obama volunteer and asked him about whether he’d heard this about “census confirmation”, and he said, with real concern, I don’t think they can deny you your vote. So Daniel and I decided to go to the polls together and at least demand provisional ballots.
I walked in, and poll workers greeted us, directed us to the booths, we each voted and left. No challenges. However, it left me feeling uneasy about my neighborhood–mostly college professors, many of them absentminded–and wondering how many of them stayed home, thinking they’d missed their paperwork filing deadline.
It feels like I prevented someone from keeping me from my vote. It could be completely innocuous, but it in all ways, it felt like those voter suppression tactics that until now, I’ve only read about in the papers.
If you’ve heard of something like this, please note it in the comments. And in the meantime, if I find anything out, I’ll update.