Stop thinking about voting as a right
It was the seventh day of the eleventh month of the first year of the new millenium, and I had failed to vote.
I mean, it wasn’t that big of a deal. I wasn’t trying to make a statement, or feeling particularly disillusioned or disenfranchised. Truth is, I just couldn’t be bothered.
See, I was living in Florida at the time, but on the day in question I was in New Orleans, Louisiana, in the middle of a multi-month road trip for work.
Of course, I could have gotten an absentee ballot and voted anyway, but that just seemed like a bit of a hassle. (Please read the previous sentence in your whiniest, angstiest teenage voice.)
And anyway, what difference would one vote make? Surely my vote wouldn’t matter.
So on the night in question, my business partner and I are barhopping around the French Quarter, and of course every bar is running the election results.
First bar we go into has the news anchor calling Florida for Gore. Oh that’s good then, think I. Drink.
Second bar has them saying ‘oh whoopsie did we say Gore we meant Bush sorry not sorry.’ Oh that’s too bad, think I. Drink.
Next bar Gore. Next bar Bush. On and on throughout the night. I stumble back to my hotel room. Fall asleep. Wake up the next morning. Turn on CNN just in time to hear the announcer say, “Well, the election’s still undecided, and it all comes down to the state of Florida.”
Darn, think I. I should have voted.
He goes on: “And one of the most hotly contested counties in Florida is Broward County” — where I lived.
Darn, think I. I *really* should have voted.
Then he delivers the killer blow: “And I’m broadcasting to you from Lester’s Diner” — the diner on the corner of my block, where I had breakfast multiple times a week, and my horror is growing as I’m waiting for him to add, “and YOU, KAILA COLBIN, YOU DIDN’T VOTE AND WE’RE ALL WAITING FOR YOU.”
I felt sick.
Worse, for the next eight years, I felt I had no right to complain.