First, let’s get something straight. The thousands of brilliant Floridians who found themselves incapable of following an arrow from a name to a dot four years ago were not disenfranchised. Disenfranchisement requires that one actually be denied the right to vote. Not having the skills of a kindergartner to read directions and complete a task doesn’t count. No really, Al, it doesn’t. Sorry.
But alas, lest you think all of the protests and cries for justice are without merit, I am here to assure you that disenfranchisement does indeed occur. For I, a citizen in good standing (and without felony convictions), have been denied the right to vote. My lovely wife, who’s far more politically harmless than her husband, and I have been disenfranchised.
Dis. En. Fran. Chised.
The story goes like this:
We moved to Texas from Pennsylvania, and we dutifully made our trek to the DMV to trade in our yankee licenses for Texas driver’s license. My first disappointment in this journey was the discovery that they could not restore my original Texas license number, which I still have logged in my brain (something that never happened with my PA number…a sign, I suppose, that I always knew it was temporary). Apparently our absence from the Republic had been too protracted, and the computer had erased us from its memory. That, however, was just a foretaste of the travesty to come.
As I applied for my new Texas license, I was given the option to register to vote. Despite my disillusionment with American political process, I dutifully checked, “Sign me up.” When I handed my application to the nice lady behind the counter, she informed me that I was a week too late to register for the November 2 election.
“Too late?” I says.
“Too late,” she says.
“Eh?” I says.
“Yeh,” she says.
Turns out the deadline for registering here had passed. It didn’t matter that I am indeed a registered voter. I have to be registered here to vote here.
“So,” I says, “Can I still vote somewhere?”
“I dunno,” she says (she just does driver’s licenses).
Turns out it was also, by then, logistically impossible for us to solicit absentee ballots from PA.
So here sits me (and my lovely wife), upright, conscientious citizens willing to ROCK THE VOTE (I typed those words emphatically, by the way, wounding my keyboard), and we have to stand on the sidelines and watch (my whole sports career flashes before my eyes and I’m momentarily missing left-handed layups again, only this time I’m trying to get the ball in the proper punch-hole of a butterfly ballot… “It won’t go, it won’t go!! I can only dimple the chad!”).
I’ve left several messages with the good folks at Rainbow/PUSH, but so far Jesse hasn’t called back. I’m sure he just isn’t getting my messages for some reason, because I know he’d be here if he was. I mean, he’s interested in the enfranchisement of every American, right? Right?
Hmm…maybe I need to find Jackie Chiles’ number.