Tuesday, November 4, 2014

In honor of the right to vote

"I want vote!" — Enis Mehinovic, American citizen, tax-payer and voter

I'M DOOR-KNOCKING again today. It's my last chance to make a difference in today's election. Frankly, I'm amazed I have the stomach for it.

I sunk into a funk ten days ago after my October 25 round of door-knocking. The level of apathy and ignorance was too much for me.

Too many people I talked to said they weren't planning to vote because they didn't know anything about the candidates, and even more said they were undecided about who to vote for the same reason. Come on! When are you thinking you're going to get around to becoming informed?! Most of them were women, which bummed me out even more. One woman said she never votes.

Nevertheless, gluttons for punishment that we apparently are, we door-knocked again this past Saturday and Sunday, and on Sunday, two days before the election, yet another woman told me that that she was "undecided" because she didn't know the candidates. I wanted to scream, "Exactly how apathetic and ignorant are you?"

Here's a woman with at least one little child (and a husband and a dog) living in a ticky-tacky little house, who isn't cognizant enough of the events and forces surrounding her that can have such an impact on the quality of her family's life, to feel any urgency to vote, let alone vote for her own best interests and against the monied interests who most assuredly don't care one thing about her. God almighty!

Yesterday, though, I was able to relish a few moments of equilibrium and peace by making sure two people who really wanted to vote were able to.

Saturday I had knocked on the door of a Bosnian couple's apartment. They're citizens and registered voters, but I could tell they were going to have a devil of a time voting because they either hadn't received the absentee ballots they'd requested or they'd misplaced them. (We didn't share enough common language for me to be sure which of the two things had taken place.) The outstanding ballots combined with their sketchy English made it unlikely they'd be able to negotiate the details at the polls in order to vote.

The best thing to do, it seemed, would be for me to take them to their polling place myself and act as their advocate and "explainer," and we made an appointment for me to pick them up on election day. 

But then I got to worrying.

Twice in the past I've driven handicapped people to the polls who needed my assistance in the voting booth, and I've been hassled. In one case the gentleman had vision problems and couldn't see well enough to find and fill in the ovals, and in the other, my friend Myron doesn't have have the motor skills to color in ovals. Because they have disabilities, doesn't mean they don't have the right to vote. All they required (and had asked me for) was a little help, yet I was challenged. 

I worried all weekend that it might prove to be be an even stickier situation with Enis and Refija because of the transactions required to cancel their missing absentee ballots and their language difficulties, so I resolved to see if they would let me take them to the Polk County Auditor's office yesterday instead of to the polls today. There, I knew I would find people who know the laws supporting voters' rights, and I wouldn't be challenged for providing assistance. 

I drove to their house yesterday morning in hopes of catching one or both. Enis was working, but would be back at 2:00, Refija said, and they'd go with me then. So I drove Paul to work downtown, turned around and drove back to Ankeny to collect Enis and Refija, turned around again to go back downtown to the election office, then back to Ankeny to take them home, and then back to the office to work — although I confess that I sat at my desk making calls on behalf of Kay Hagan instead.

But . . .  I had such a sense of accomplishment and peace for having put one tiny corner of democracy to rights. These were two people who really, really wanted to vote — and were grateful for the opportunity and right to vote — as opposed to the lazy-minded native-borns on whose doors I had been knocking.

When I first met Enis on Saturday, and we were trying to figure out what each of us was saying, he kept repeating, "I want vote!!" and "I like Democrat."

Don't criticize his difficulty with English, though. He's a citizen and a tax payer — a man who had the courage to come to a country where he didn't know any of the language and take any job he could get in order to offer his children a better life. Nineteen years later he's still working two shifts six days a week — delivering pizza. He worked hard enough to be able to send his son through college, who now has a good job working for a bank.

Enis and Refija deserve and have earned the right to vote. I was privileged to make sure they could.

PS: Please consult the below graph to be reminded of why you do NOT want to vote for any candidate the Koch Brothers support. In Iowa that would be Joni Ernst. She is NOT for you. She is for them.


  1. Replies
    1. Gosh, Mike, thanks for saying that. I'd don't feel like I'm doing anything more than I ought, but I appreciate your generous words. :-)