I tried to vote. I really did.
First, I couldn’t heed every last neoliberal drop of Hillary Clinton’s words and Pokémon go to the polls because I forgot my Apple ID password so I couldn’t download the app. After giving up and closing the app store after too many failed password attempts, I opened Instagram to see my peers post endlessly on their stories, urging me with unparalleled aggression to register to vote. When I DM’d a few of them asking how to register, one of them left me on read. The other replied, “fuck I didn’t think I’d get this far lol.”
I decided to take matters into my own hands. I requested an absentee ballot, but instead received a letter in return four weeks later that read “YOU REALLY THINK WE WOULD EVER COUNT THIS” in big, GOP-funded block letters.
So then I tried to register in North Carolina with the help of students tabling on the BC for voter registration. As I began to approach, I was, as always, bombarded by peers yelling, “HEY! Do you want to eradicate poverty?” and “Do you care about kids with cancer?”
With no defense and without headphones in my ears, I had no choice but to engage.
“Well, what kind of cancer?” I asked.
I took advantage of their silence to slide on over to the voter registration table. With my heart full, my eyes wide, and soul ready to begin my era of civic engagement, I declared, “I’d like to register to vote, please.” The tabler gave me a once-over and informed me that they had just run out of forms and ugh she’s so sorry ://. She told me they’d be tabling tomorrow from 10:01-10:12, the next day “whenever you’re in class,” or the following day at 3:12 (“it only takes a minute anyways”). She hands me a water-damaged flyer with some “voter resources” on it, including: yourvotedoesntcount.com, whyareyoustilltrying.org, and democracyisfucked.com.
As I made my way back to my dorm to wallow in my disappointment, I was struck by the early voting banners gesturing towards ABP. I pushed through the wafts of stale sandwiches and culinary mediocrity and stumbled into the polling area in the most poorly lit area in all of West Union.
As I enter the polling area, I am blinded by the bright red vest of a chubby 65-year-old white man, a beam of light in the otherwise pitch blackness of the basement corners of WU. His eyes command me to approach his check-in table.
He asks for my last name, and I begin to spell it out. I spell it four whole times but he keeps fucking up the spelling and concluding that I am not registered. He offers to register me right here, right now, as is luxury of the early voting period. He asks me to spell my name six more times. He butchers it so badly I end up creating a new identity and registering as a entirely different person. I am ushered on to the next table.
The GOP’s extremely necessary initiatives against the definitely real threat of voter fraud created a hefty line for this next hurdle table. When I finally reach the front of the line, the woman asks me for 5 different forms of ID. I reach into my backpack and muster five out. Driver’s license. Student ID. Fake ID. Credit card. A receipt from Sazón.
She gives a cursory glance at my five different forms, handling them each by each with close examination, and lets out an exasperated sigh. “You’re fucking kidding me, right?” I begin to sweat, my hands clam up and my face goes pale. I’m never going to be able to vote.
“You ordered the fucking grouper from Sazón? You know they basically have to stop the whole line to make that shit?” She sighs again, muttering “Your vote is useless.”
She offers me the ballot, but as I reach for it, she yanks it out of my reach. “Think again you sick fuck. Go vote somewhere else.” She throws my ballot to the ground and steps on it. I pick it up, and as I raise my head to meet her eyes, she sticks out her hand to offer me a crayon in the objectively ugliest shade of yellow in lieu of a pen. “Since you wanted to act childish in the Sazón line,” she explains. I take my ballot and my yellow crayon to the voting booth. I use the crayon to fill in the bubble for the candidate of my choice. I do so with such enthusiasm and vigor that the booth collapses. Down fall the booth, the ballots, the pens, the crayon, and my neighboring voters.
The ceiling then collapses. I dig my ballot out from the rubble and brush off the dust. I examine my work. My crayon marking had missed the bubble entirely. Fuck. I reach for the crayon and try to continue to fill out my ballot. As I start the bubble for the last section, the crayon snaps in half. And so does my heart. “This is what democracy looks like?” I weep, my voice cracking with each syllable. My vision is blurred by tears and all the dust from the crash. The national anthem plays softly in the background as I slip my ballot into the ballot box and it disappears into the screams of the shredder.