Disenfranchised? Or just Dissed?

On those (oh too few days) when I slip unnoticed back into Greenwood, one of my tasks is to sort the mail, piled high as a result of my stubborn refusal to change the delivery address to the condo in Columbia. I don’t know why, maybe it’s just because I like Greenwood. Maybe I’m hedging my bets that this state gig will turn out right, and I’ll just go home, light a fire and start over again. Whatever the reason, the mail goes there and I begin the weekly harvest of the junk mail, the kayak and camera catalogs and the increasingly large share of political ads. (Fortunately, most of the bills have been culled.)

Since I am a hard-core independent voter, I get mail from both parties. The Republicans warn me that gays are trying to destroy my family. (As if they needed any help given the odds of sustaining a family from 90 miles away.) The Democrats warn me that the Republicans are trying to destroy my family. (A charge I’m given to believing more and more.) Still, two weeks ago came a thoughtful gift from the South Carolina Republican Party: a tear-off request card for an absentee ballot. I’ve never voted absentee before, but this year, with my state-wide duties, it seemed like the time. So I filled it out and sent it in (along with one for my USC student offspring, who is a die-hard Dem–ah the idealism of youth…).

Last Friday, the Richland County Voter Registration office left a message in Greenwood for me to call. They had a question about my request. Had they looked at my voting record and decided that I was a terrorist? Or worse, a Democrat? So Monday morning I called and the very pleasant representative told me that they had my request, but that they couldn’t process it since I was registered in Greenwood county. Which was strange, since I was very careful to fill out the form, and ask that the ballot be sent to the condo in Columbia. And I had mailed it to Greenwood! Yes, she said, but it had been forwarded to Richland County since that was the delivery address. Seeing that arguing would be pointless, I thanked her and called Greenwood County Voter Registration.

There another pleasant representative listened patiently as I explained what had happened. “You got one of those Republican Party cards?” She harumphed, “Yes.” “Well, that explains it.”

Explains it? I guess they did check the records, or my magazine subscription list (Harper’s Sojourners, Mother Jones, The Atlantic), or the number of times I’ve criticized the Republicans on this blog, or maybe they talked to my old radical friends from the 1980’s in Pax Christi or the Fellowship of Reconciliation (The idealism of youth again…)

Now, with less than two weeks before the election, I have new forms to fill out and send back in. “Please do it quickly, because we’re running out of time,” said the pleasant, patient Voter Registration person. So what happens if my request gets bungled again? I won’t be able to vote.

Never trust a gift from the Republican Party. Remember that the next time you think the tax cuts are for you.

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