Voting shouldn’t feel like this

Go vote. It’s a right and a privilege, and as I found out this year, there are a heckuva lot of people involved in making elections work.

For the first time in my life, I voted absentee. Barely. In early October, I requested my ballot from my home county circuit clerk’s office, only to see the weeks pass without a ballot arriving. When communication with the office failed, I sought the aid of my secretary of state’s election division to remind the folks in my county to do their job.

It was a mess of phone calls, record keeping, and legal actions. I was thankful for the good I saw in public servants – I must have gotten aid from five or six different people in the S.O.S.’s office, many of whom called me. Yet, the well-documented incompetence of one county’s election infrastructure seemed too much to overcome in time to exercise my right to vote.

This was going to a blog post about voter disenfranchisement, a system that failed its displaced constituency. Fortunately, the cogs and gears fell into place, and the system came through for me without a moment to spare.

So it seems my ballot will be among those counted this year. And it should feel better than ever before. This time, it took real time and effort – to make the calls, to fill out the paperwork, to find the notary, to beat the deadline. This time, my vote came with hardship. This time, I valued the notion of our representative democracy and what it meant to have a voice.

It should feel better than ever before. But it didn’t.

How could it? This presidential campaign cycle was the longest in our nation’s history. President Obama has reverted to Candidate Obama for most of the year, and Mitt Romney has been campaigning almost continuously since his first try at the nomination began in 2007.

The process was exhausting. To witness a president I supported in 2008 fail to steer the power of the executive to accomplish what he was elected to do, but wield it mightily in doctrinal extensions of the War on Terror (He has a kill list, after all, executed by robots in the skies).

Or to witness a challenger I also supported in 2008 become a different person every half hour to pander to target audiences and convince them that he would make a strong leader. The challenger made every effort to distinguish himself from the incumbent, except in the realm of foreign wars and constitutional rights in America’s new military construct. There, they exhibit the same brashness that comes from either inexperience or inattention.

Above all, I don’t see strong leadership in either of our major party candidates this year, and it led me to cast the ballot myself and many others worked to procure with a heavy disappointment, and a hope that I am dead wrong.

In 2008, I provided a presidential endorsement. In 2012, I do no such thing, because for the first time since I began paying attention to politics, I have major reservations about all options.

I didn’t come here to tell you which man to vote for, or which man I voted for, if either. I came here to tell you the effort gladly undertaken to exercise my right to vote, and the thought process that led to my malaise regarding the vote itself.

I ask you to take the responsibility seriously. That you consider the candidates in light of their records, their character, and your own guiding values and beliefs. On Tuesday, vote, and be proud you efforted to make America better. Maybe for you there is a man on the ballot who can do that.

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