Are you registered to vote? My answer to this question is an overwhelming “I don’t know.” I recently relocated to Georgia, and for some reason, for the first time in my life, I am nervous about my voter registration. I admit that I’ve been procrastinating on getting my Georgia driver’s license—you know, avoiding that dreaded trip to the DMV. As I was watching the news last week, I heard them say that the deadline to register is June 16th. Needless to say I was now being forced to make that awful anticipated trip to the DMV.
The next morning I got all of my paperwork together and prayed before I drove down the road of uncertainty. I got to the DMV forty-five minutes before it opened and waited outside with the rest of the early risers. When the doors opened, I was fourth in line and thought that I just might be able to get out of there in under an hour. As I was called to the counter, I began to feel more confident, but wait … just then a monotone voice (similar to the woman’s voice at the DMV in the movie License to Drive) rang out and said, “Marriage certificate.” Doh! Just when I thought I was in the clear!
I kindly took a seat, called my husband, and waited for him to bring our marriage certificate. Did I mention it was monsooning that day? I digress. As I waited for my husband, I thought about just how easy married men have it, and how they will never in their lives have a use for a marriage certificate—when we as women need it all the time. Anyway, he pulled up and I ran out to get the needed paperwork. 50 excuse me’s and 100 dirty looks later, I made it to the front of the line and took a number to get my picture taken. Once I got to the counter and paid, I was asked if I wanted to register to vote. Of course I said yes—the whole purpose of me going there in the first place. I then asked if there was something they could give me stating that I had registered to vote. Surprisingly (not!), the answer was no, and she said my registration card would come in the mail in a couple of weeks.
So why am I so nervous? Reason number one is because my cousin went through this same process last year, and when it was time to vote in the primaries, they said she wasn’t on the list. Reason number two is because I am beginning to get flashbacks of the 2000 general election in Florida.
I was not one of the unfortunate people who got turned away at the polls or whose vote didn’t count in 2000, because fortunately for me, I was attending college in Florida, and voted absentee in Maryland. However, I had the grueling opportunity to hear the horror stories first hand of people being asked for four pieces of identification, people being lied to about their registration, and not to mention voting boxes left on the side of the road! With the historic value that this year’s election holds, I can’t help but wonder if something like this is possible again.
Due to my current state of paranoia, I decided to go to the county registration office today (June 16th). There was no one in line, and it only took a few minutes to submit my registration. Here I go being difficult again, but I just had to ask if they could give me some proof of registration. The kind woman behind the counter said that there was some sort of receipt she could give me, but I would have to pay a dollar. Of course I agreed, so she called the manager out to handle my very delicate situation.
As I’m waiting for the manager, Suzie-Know-It-All-With-A-Bad-Attitude yells down from the other end of the counter, “What do you need proof for!” Well if you must know Suzie-Know-It-All-With-A-Bad-Attitude, because I don’t want to have any issues when I go to vote. The manager finally comes out and asks me if I submitted the registration form last week. I politely told him no, and that I had just submitted it today. He said, “Oh well then I can’t give you a receipt because you’re not registered yet.” I tried to explain to him that I just wanted something stating that I had been in that office today, so that I would not have any problems later—especially since this is the last day to register. He then “guarantee[d]” me that I would get a registration card in the mail and be able to vote. He told me I could check the status online or call him personally. He saw the continued look of displeasure on my face and said, “What can I do for you because I don’t want anyone saying that this office mistreated them.” Chuckling on the inside, I began to walk out of the office.
All I can do now is wait. I’ve never felt like my vote counted more than it does now. I really think the voter registration process needs some reform. The woman at the registration office didn’t even need to see my ID. So why can’t we just register online and get a confirmation number? Those of you who have lived in the same location for many years can probably be at ease right now, but for those of you who haven’t—are you registered to vote?