This year, I became a naturalised American citizen. After half a decade of living in the country, subjected to laws I had no say in, I finally have the opportunity to take my opinions with me to the poll station. When the primaries rolled around, I made sure I requested my absentee ballot. I got several voter’s registration cards but no absentee ballot. Consequently, while the rest of my family had the opportunity to vote, I did not.
When we received absentee ballot applications for the November elections, I filled out the paperwork half-heartedly. I waited and waited and waited and my absentee ballot did not come — as I expected. By early October, I had just one day to decide if I would vote in the Nevada elections, instead. I decided to take the plunge.
The Voting Process in Nevada
Nevada gave me no hassle with registering. I printed the application, filled it out and mailed it in on October 4th. I received confirmation that I was officially a registered voter on the same day my Atlanta ballot finally came. I told my mother to shred it. The following Monday, I took a road trip to Las Vegas, met up with Tristan, and drove to the closest polling station.
The line was half very angry-looking White people and half very excited-looking people of colour. Tristan and I were among those laughing, chatting, and taking selfies on what we felt was a big moment. Inside, the workers who assisted us were friendly and everyone wore masks. They didn’t even hassle me over the fact that I was voting in Nevada with a Georgia’s driver’s license.
I had brought my naturalisation paperwork just in case anyone’s inner redneck surfaced, but they never asked for it. The fact that I was registered in the state and had a physical address was proof enough that I had a legitimate right to be there. I received a card and was directed to an unoccupied machine to vote.
The Big Moment
The elections office had told me that because I didn’t have a Nevada driver’s license yet, I would only get the option to vote for the president. Apparently, something updated in the system, because I felt overwhelmed by choices. I had never felt so uninformed as I did staring at the long list of names up for election as judges, mayors, etc. I voted for all positions where democrats were running and abstained from all others.
Nevada also had half a dozen amendment proposals for its constitution that we were asked to vote on. I abstained from the ones that were either over my head or I had no experience with. I voted yes for LGBTQ rights and yes for clean energy initiatives. I then double-checked to ensure I had made no mistakes and submitted my ballot.
At the exit, a lady took my card and gave me a sticker and a pamphlet. “I’m sure you know someone who hasn’t voted yet. Share this with them. Help us get as many people to vote as possible.”
After exiting the area, I remembered that I have two vehicles, after all. Why only accept one sticker? I ran back inside to get another. Both Samson (the FJ Cruiser) and Jasmine (the RV) now have bumper stickers proudly proclaiming that I voted in Sin City.
The Record-Breaking Turnouts
When I called the county election’s office to confirm my registration status, the lady I spoke to told me she had worked in the office for years and had never seen so many people registering. Back in Georgia, voters were setting records there, too. Even young people are registering to vote at unprecedented rates.
In fact, all across America, people are recognising that this is no run-of-the-mill presidential election. This won’t be one of those elections where we laugh about Mitt Romney’s remarks about Elmo or comment on Obama’s suit choices. This election, America’s democracy is at stake.
A man holds office who refuses to commit to a peaceful transfer of power and who has joked that he would like to hold that office for the rest of his life. When asked to condemn White Supremacists, he instead told them to “stand down and standby,” because apparently, there are still good people on both sides.
If America’s social ills are not confronted instead of shushed and healed instead of swept under the rug, we may not have an America left by the end of it all. For these and other reasons, I voted early. Having had a terrible experience with Georgia’s voters’ suppression, I also chose to vote in person.
Haven’t yet registered to vote? Check out Vote.gov. Let your voice be heard while you still can.