Most people don’t get how serious being denied the ability to vote is.
I was purged from voter rolls this year and I was pissed. I had heard about widespread, rampant voter purging and feared I was caught up in a bigger effort. I talked to my local city councilman who had connections to the county and election board and in the end we realized it was just one person reviewing past election records and he was worried my signature changed from my original Oregon voter registration from 15 years ago.
When I first showed up in the state, I was younger and took my time and probably did a legible signature, but over the years I’ve realized signatures barely matter much anymore and I’ve reduced mine to a much simpler squiggle, just to save time.
Apparently I had gotten a couple letters asking me to re-register that I missed, and the final one I saw was telling me I was officially ineligible to vote. I only had two months before today’s election day to re-register.
As I went to fill out the paperwork again, I realized how fucked up this was. It’s not “just a vote.” I was literally being denied one of our core constitutional rights by one guy with a clipboard judging me.
The gravity of it hit me on the way to the county records office. By the time I parked my car, I was fully prepared to file a lawsuit and contact the ACLU for resources if re-registering didn’t clear things up immediately.
It’s extraordinarily unfair when we remove the right to vote from anyone. Even people that served time for felonies still should keep their rights to vote when they get out. They did the time, paid the price, and still have a say in how the world works once they’ve gone through rehabilitation. They can also work as a check and balance on overzealous policing and imprisonment and should never be denied their constitutional right.
And I’ll never, ever understand anyone pushing for voter suppression of any kind. Even if the majority of people voted against my interests, every voter should be able to cast their ballots quickly, easily, and our shared goals should be as close as possible to 100% of eligible voters getting to vote in every election.
Anything less than that is fighting against a true democracy.