Have you decided how you will vote in this years election, the young female voice on the phone asked. Yes, I have. Would you mind telling me who you will vote for? she continued. Yes, I would. Then she politely thanked me and went on to the next person on her list to bother. I hoped it wouldn’t be my 96-year old mother. Mom gets about 6 calls a day from either volunteers or recordings asking her how she’s going to vote. I try to tell her that she is not obligated to talk to these people, especially if its a recording. But she insists on saying something like I’m not registered, so I’m not going to vote. The truth is that she is registered, but she has forgotten that I filled out the forms, and she signed them, so she is not only registered in Ohio now, but she will also receive an absentee ballot. Voting absentee is the only realistic way she could manage to vote, that is, if she decides she wants to vote. She can still see to read, with a magnifying glass, so sitting on her couch and filling out an absentee ballot makes much more sense than struggling with all the obstacles of her voting at the polls.
You might think that an absentee ballot would be easier for me too, but think about that for a minute. Because I can’t see the print, I’d have to have someone read the ballot to me and fill in my choices. That would be the end of my privacy. As Americans, we are entitled to a secret ballot. Thats why, when they introduced the talking voting machines, I was absolutely thrilled. At last I was able to exercise my right to a secret ballot. Until that time, I had to take someone into the voting booth with me to cast my vote. It could be pretty crowded in there with a Democrat, a Republican, me, and a guide dog. No way would I return to having to get someone to read and mark the ballot for me. If the goal is to eventually get everyone to vote absentee, then they’re going to have to come up with a way to make the ballots accessible for voters who are blind.
Until that time, I’ll be voting at the polls. The privilege of voting on my own is still so new that I actually enjoy the process. If you happen to be one of those volunteers who make those annoying calls, please don’t take this personally, but how I vote is really none of your business.