In early May, right before I was diagnosed with cancer, I renewed my drivers license at the local DMV. When I was asked if I would like to register to vote, I said yes, much to the shock of the person renewing my license. She had this silent smile on her face that made me wonder if she got a bonus for every sucker that signed up to vote.
Why did I register? Well, to be honest, I'm tired of the state of this country. I'm tired of watching the news hearing about the exploits of our elected officials (honestly I believe that Bush stole the last election because Gore had over one million more votes than Bush, but Bush still won by some miracle) and their mindless zombie drones in Congress and the House of Representatives. It's sad to see so many old retirees in office just sit around and exist, pushing their old meaningless ways onto the current generation who want nothing to do with them. The existing 'old farts' sit around waiting for big business to grease their bank account with another legal bribe and have their votes purchased. The government, as I see it thanks to the media, is so horrifically corrupt that it can't survive in its current state. Over half the world hates us for being Americans and I didn't do a darn thing wrong.
I registered to vote to change that. I thought my vote may count. I honestly don't think it did. Here's why.
I've heard the news stories and read the articles about the electronic voting machines that switch votes from 'anyone' to Republican. I never thought it would happen to me the first time I attempted to vote.
I arrive at the polling station bright and early Tuesday morning. I'm greeted at the door with smiles and helpful people. I show my voters registration card and an ID. I'm given a smartcard to insert into a voting machine to enable it. I'm asked if I would like a quick demo of the 'new voting machine.' For giggles, I said yes. A young man walks up to me and shows me screen prints of what I should do here, here and here, pointing to specific areas on the printout. This seems very straightforward. Remembering about the problems with electronic voting, I ask him if we are going to get a paper receipt of some kind showing what the voting machine had registered a vote for. He said NO. That was problem number one of many. I walk up to one voting machine and enter the smartcard into it. The screen on the voting machine pops to life with a warm glow and starts offering me choices for the Governor, Legislature and Congressional seats. I start making choices.
Here's where the fun begins.
Halfway down the line, I am having a problem: When I press on the touchscreen to make a choice, the machine will not register my vote for that candidate. I press it a bit harder, but still nothing. Hmm. To diagnose whether or not I'm experiencing a hardware or software problem, I press the name of the other candidate that I do NOT want to vote for. Ding! I just successfully chose the other candidate. Okay, so it's not a software problem. I press the name of the candidate that I want to vote for. Nothing. The machine it not registering it at all. I press the back button on the bottom left hand side of the screen. Surprise! This button is disabled. Now, I remember being told that at the end of the selection process that I can review and make changes then. I mistakenly decide to do that. I let this one mis-vote pass. This happens a second time. And a third. Now I'm fuming.
At the end of the voting procedure, a review screen pops up and asks me to review my selections, telling me that I can go back and make changes. I now press the back button. Guess what? The back button is either disabled or broken altogether.
I ask for some help. A man walks over and I calmly and politely tell him what has happened. He shakes his head and makes a comment that 'these things aren't perfect, it just happens.' I then ask him if there is a way to vote by paper. He tells me this is an electronic polling station only. I'm starting to silently panic. So I'm just supposed to accept that this box will not allow me to change my votes to the correct ones and the excuse is that 'it just happens' on these electronic machines? Apparently so. I had no choice. I got to vote for the candidates that I didn't want to vote for, and guess who I didn't want to vote for?
I feel used. I feel as if all the lame conspiracy theories the crackpots have been circulating around the internet for months were not total crap after all. Maybe I should put more faith in the news reporting of Slashdot, Digg and Fark. Do I now believe that voting actually means something? No. Do I now think that the top 1% of big business really runs this country? Yep. Do I want to vote again? No.
I wasn't the only one let down here. 300 million Americans were.