You are not going to believe this post. I still can’t, AND IT HAPPENED TO ME TODAY!
No, I’m not fucking kidding, thank you. very. fucking. much.
I have been registered in this state as a voter since 2000. Twelve years. I vote every single time I can, and with ballots-by-mail, I vote early. The right to vote is one of the most prized-possessions I own. So, do not fuck with me or it. But first, let me lay the background for this post tonight:
- I have voted in every election since I turned 18, which is exactly [many, many] years.
- I have never, ever been denied the right to vote or denied a ballot.
- I have been a registered voter in Washington state since 2000, and I have never had my registration questioned.
- I have not been convicted of a felony.
- I am a U.S. citizen, and my citizenship is not now nor has it ever been questioned by anyone, anywhere, ever.
- I am at least 18 years old times 2+.
- I have never been disqualified from voting by a court order.
- I am currently a resident of Washington and, in fact, have lived at the very same address for 8 years and have previously received my ballots and my Voter’s Guide at this address.
- I have not changed my name.
- I have not changed my signature.
Today, I received a postcard from the Washington Secretary of State’s office. It said, “You may be eligible to vote, but don’t appear to be registered.” Proof? Ok:
1,000 percent true. And guess what? The Secretary of State’s office had my name and my address exactly correct, which is how the mother fucking postcard arrived at my doorstep. Doesn’t this seem curious? I mean, if I’m not registered or I don’t appear registered in the SOS’s office, then how does my vote count?
IT DOESN’T. Ladies and Gentlemen, that is called disenfranchisement.
Not happy to leave my ability to exercise the most important civic responsibility any of us owe to a website, I called SOS Sam Reed’s office. I talked to a nice woman and expressed my exceptional disappointment and concern. Do you know what I found out? Somehow, their records of my birth month were inaccurate by 2 months. Not my birth year and not my birth day. Just the month. And she indicated it had been wrong for the full 12 years that I have been a Washington registered voter. Now, how is that possible and why has this not been brought to my attention as a gay rights activist until 7 weeks before one of the most important elections in my lifetime?
I inquired further.
Me: “I have had the same, exact birthday for the past [many, many] years. I have never been denied the right to vote–at least to my knowledge. You have sent me Voter’s Guides and I have received ballots and I have voted until it hurts over the past 12+ years.”
Her: “Well, we have cross-referenced our records with other local and state gov’t records, and when we find a discrepancy, we notify the voter.”
Me: “Yes, but you also disenfranchise us and no longer show us as registered voters.”
Her: ”Well, um . . . “
Me: ”FIX IT!” upon which I gave her the correct information.
The reason? Apparently the SOS’s office has been comparing its records with other Washington state and local government records. Where inconsistencies are identified, no matter the cause or reason, voter registration is called into question.
But get this: I posted this little histoire d’emmerdement on my Facebook page, and nearly 2% of my friends responded that they had received the exact same postcard. In one case, it was a birth date issue. In another, it was an address issue, even though the person had received previous ballots in her name at the exact address they had on record and to which they sent the god damn post card. In another case, it was the spelling of the voter’s name (an omitted “e” in a name that would have been pronounced the same way regardless of the “e.” See, e.g., Michelle vs. Michele).
I do not know what is going on, but I am not only concerned but enormously suspicious. At best, the SOS’s office has chosen to assume voter fraud over voter registration, which is dangerous. There is very little actual voter fraud in this country, and to assume guilt instead of innocence in registration is against this country’s founding principles. At worst, records are being negligently or intentionally modified in a way that calls into question the registered status of eligible citizens. Either way, I am one pissed off voter.
I want this shit to stop immediately. I am sending a link to this blog post to every media outlet I can think of, and you should, too. You know what else you should do? Check your registration. If you are a Washington registered voter, then go to http://www.myvote.wa.gov or call 1-800-448-4881. Don’t fuck around–you have until October 8th to register or correct your registration online or by mail and until October 29th to register or correct in person.
I don’t give a damn what your political leanings are. One of the things that makes our system of government function is the right for each qualified citizen to vote. Please do not sit by and let yourselves be disenfranchised. If you need advice on how to vote, however, I am happy to give that advice, too: APPROVE Ref. 74!! (among other progressive ideals and candidates).
Please, please, please, from the bottom of my heart and from the single thread of bi-partisanship I can muster: Do not let yourself become inadvertently disenfranchised. Please. This is a danger to our democracy now and forever. Do what you can to spread the word and to make sure this doesn’t happen to other Washingtonians.
Posty-Scripty! I am not the only person disenfranchised in Washington, and yet this story appears to have gone nowhere in the MSM.