Voter Abuse

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 (Charmian Cohen)

My high school was the alma mater of the Pankhurst sisters, founders of the British Women's Suffragette Movement. I always voted, marking X on a paper next to the candidate of my choice.

Now I'm an American citizen. For weeks I stuffed the forest of election materials into a grocery bag, then Sunday morning hauled the bag over to my dining room table and emptied it out. I read the Voter Information Guide, Supplemental Guide, every glossy flier, created an Excel spreadsheet.
A registered Democrat, I voted slate for all state offices, but got stuck on the non-partisan ones.  I moved on to ranked choice voting for Oakland mayor, which even Jerry Brown jokes he doesn't understand.  

Then state measures and propositions. Prop 45: The California Nurses Association was "for" but the American Nurses Association of California was "against." I dug out the ACLU's endorsements and voted their slate. Three hours and only halfway through.  

After lunch I did local measures, city and county Offices, finished up the non-partisans. Then I started on the judges. I knew I should Google them but it was growing dark. Rather than vote for every judge whose name began with a vowel, I sealed my ballots, signed the envelope - twice -- six hours, but I could drop this in the mail tomorrow. Then, I see "Requires Additional Postage."

I called a friend who told me mailing her ballot cost 91cents. But she's Republican -- maybe she only said that so my vote would arrive late?  


Monday, I growled my way through 30 minutes on line at the post office to find that the postage was indeed 91 cents. (Note to Electoral Commission, next time print on envelope "Requires 91 cents Postage.")  

I want to vote and I want to be a good citizen. But now I get why Groucho Marx sang:  "Whatever it is, I'm against it."

With a Perspective, I'm Charmian Cohen.

Charmian Cohen is a technical writer with a masters in creative writing from San Francisco State University.