I am irritated after my experience today with early voting. And I know I shouldn’t feel afraid or discriminated against, but I do. I decided I wanted to be a good example of a woman who is a “good American” that exercises her right to vote. I brought my two young children with me to the local grocery store and let them watch me cast my ballot in the primary election. How can Americans exercise their right to vote while advocating their right to privacy at the same time? These days seem long gone I fear.
Avoid my mistake if I made one, I’m still not sure. I feel like voting is becoming an non-private event. Walking through the parking lot, the three of us were bombarded with posters-all conservative, no liberals in sight. And there was a woman and man standing out in the parking lot holding up a poster advocating their candidate.
My two children, three and four, and I walked inside the grocery store. I filled out my information and my id was verified by a woman volunteer. I was in the correct precinct, she said. Then I was asked promptly, “What party are you voting for?” Something about this question immediately bothered me. I wouldn’t take it as far to say I felt threatened or harassed, and maybe I am just uninformed. But I didn’t want to have to answer this in front of other voters or the people that were running the poll. I also felt after I answered the question that I was immediately looked at differently, and one woman in particular made me feel strange. I felt persecuted, because after I said my party affiliation and was getting ready to go to the ballot station, (also very public) I was told that my children were running away and looked over to see them by the front door of the grocery store. The distraction of such a question about what party I would vote for, had overwhelmed my ability to pay attention to what was going on around me. The woman (running one of the stations, who said that my children were running out the door) just glared at me.
I also feel that by making my party decision, I was forced into making voting decisions based solely on that party. Avoid my mistake if possible. When was it ever okay to ask this question of Americans? Americans are uniformed as it is, but we should be given options on all candidates regardless of party affiliation. Why are they all boxed in? This seems unfair. I think it should not be a question what party you are affiliated with. And if it is, you should have the option to pick people outside your party if you want. I was not given this option today, and I still don’t know if this was a mistake because I was confused or overwhelmed, or if this is just the way things go.
As I walked away from the ballot box and me and my kids received an “I voted early sticker” these questions stuck in my mind. They were reinforced when we all walked out into the grocery store parking lot towards our car. Before we got to it, we were bombarded again by the conservative Sheriff, Robert Chody’s advocates, the man and woman we had seen. They all of a sudden seemed interested in the three of us. The woman commented on my kids stickers, and said, “Oh they are the cutest little early voters ever.” The man said, “I hope you voted for Robert Chody.” I looked at him, obviously annoyed, and just stared back at him, feeling more irritation, and I refused to answer. This was another confirmation of my thoughts on privacy and what is acceptable in voting, because I did not feel inclined to answer my daughter when immediately she asked after she heard him, “Who did you vote for mommy?”