Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Suffrage Denied!

Yesterday, Floridians across the state took to the polls and awarded Mitt Romney its Republican presidential primary. Well, all Floridians except for me. And felons. I didn't register to vote until I converted my driver's license from Illinois on January 19, which was exactly 17 days too late. The rule in Florida is that you have to register 29 days before an election in order to be eligible to vote in that election. Why 29 days? Why not. I'm sure it's to protect against people moving just before the election for the sole purpose of voting and swinging an election and some sort of lead time to get the voter rolls prepared. And let's be honest, based on Florida's recent history of contested elections, you can see where this might be a concern. Of course, my last two residences comprise of a place where dead people routinely vote and allegations of kidnaps on election day where blame is placed on the opposition (yeah, someone actually told me that happens in India though it's complete heresay).

In the past 45 days, I've purchased a home in Florida, placed money in escrow for property taxes, registered two vehicles, and acquired a driver's license. I would have even been willing to pay state income tax if they wanted to collect it. I still met Florida's requirement to get a driver's license within 30 days, why end my suffrage?

Disgruntled, I checked the waiting period in case I wanted to buy a gun (not because I was disgruntled enough to do something, just for comparison sake). Three days. I could see the same waiting period to get the rolls ready for those that can prove true residency, which I would hope some combination of what I listed above could prove.

Some might ask, "why do you really care?" Here's the thing, during my two years in India I blissfully ignored what was going on in this country. I ignored it so much that I couldn't tell you the idealogical differences between the candidates. To me, Mitt Romney was the presidential looking rich guy who had ran and lost in 2008. Newt Gingrich was, well, the Speaker of the House in the 90's and I would have assumed he was just some sort of analyst appearing on a show "Morning Joe."

And that brings us to why I care so much. Since moving back to the states, I've once again made "Morning Joe" a regular part of my morning routine. I've even matured to the point where I'll listen to that on Sirius on the way to work rather than Howard Stern (if there was ever a tell-tale sign that you're getting old, that might be it). I wouldn't consider myself a political junkie (though I do have a political science minor, I'm kind of a big deal), but I've spent the past six weeks trying to reacquaint myself with what's going on in this country and actually become informed. Regardless how you feel about the state of American politics (like a lot of people, I think it's pretty screwed up) or how you feel about the primary/caucus system and the electoral college (like a lot of people, I think they both should be blown up), it is the system we have. And when you're told you're not allowed to participate, it kind of sucks.

(On a quick aside, probably the funniest suffrage bit in TV history was Kimmel and Corolla on "The Man Show" petitioning to end women's suffrage simply because it was easy to use "end" something that sounds a lot like suffering. Basically, they used the fact that people didn't know what it meant to get them to sign something supporting ending their right to vote. And for the record, I'm all for women's suffrage. But the bit is funny. It's called comedy.)

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