I voted for the first time at the age of eighteen, in Portugal, after I went back from being an exchange student.
I voted a lot. You see, Portugal had a lot of parties and at the time for whatever reason governments were always falling and special elections being called.
I was a snooty kid (well, I was) and made mine a protest vote for the only party that had no chance of ever winning an election: the monarchists.
Note that going in, they had someone inspecting however many yards away to make sure that no one was wearing campaign anything. Also, they made you show your ID card, and sign a card, which they compared to your signature on file. Note also that this was the village and EVERYONE KNEW ME and even if they had been alone all my life and didn’t know me personally, they’d have figured who I was by resemblance to my grandmother, my father, my aunt. They still made me show the ID card and carefully compared it to the signature.
Also, though the socialists always won (well, they controlled all the media) I know the vote counting was correct because the local votes always showed two monarchist votes, my own and that of my best friend’s older brother. (Whom I probably would have married, if I could only have stopped thinking of him as a brother, as well.)
Okay, so at the time the village was pretty monolithic racially, so no one could have accused voter ID of being racist. (There was one mulatto lady in the entire village. She was known as “the black woman.” Nothing racist really, because the protestant family were known as “The protestants.” In the village they just tended to nickname you by the most visible characteristic. And it stuck. I don’t doubt that woman’s son, who is blond, is called “Son of the black woman.” My family is still known as The Potato Sellers, because my great great grandmother had a potato-buying-reselling business. When friends from America came to visit, they got lost in the village (which took talent, let me tell you. Yeah, nothing was marked, but there was ONE main street and a bunch of warren like alleys. My parents lived in the only large street to the left coming into the village on the main street. (The large street to the right led to another village and eventually if you kept on walking, to the city of Porto.) Furthermore, we’d told them my parents street ended at the train station. Never mind.) and went around asking for me by name or for my dad — Antonio de Almeida — by name. Note that my family on dad’s side had lived in the village at least 150 years and maybe more. NO ONE KNEW us by surname. When they finally made it to the house, they reported this odd fact and dad laughed “You should have asked for Tone, the Potato Seller.” “But you don’t sell potatoes.” “Yeah, but my great grandmother did.” You should have seen the expressions.)
But there were poor people. Very poor people. And there were illiterate people (A ton of them.) I don’t know if all had ID cards. They sort of needed them to collect anything government or go to the doctor or whatever, but I suspect my grandmother only got one because her sons made her, and I very much doubt the farmhands had one. However, they probably had some picture ID: church card, or whatever. And their signatures got compared, or if they made “a mark” they had to be vouched for by someone of importance/well known in the community. And those who REALLY wanted to vote made an effort and got an ID card.
What I mean is, there would be more reason in Portugal to protest ID cards than here, where it’s almost impossible to live without ID. Okay, this is Colorado, and I could imagine someone lost in the hills for forty years and without an active driver’s license. But if that person was that invested in coming down and voting, they could make efforts in advance. Also, most of those people would be white, or at most have a little Latino admixture.
Also, elections in Portugal are on Sunday, but NO ONE demands to vote by mail/in advance. The one time I had to vote because I was leaving the country before the election (mom insisted I vote, even though all I did was my little protest vote) I had to fill more paperwork than to open a bank account.
I’ll note in the US elections are on Tuesday to allow (back then) people to travel by horse and buggy to the poling place. If they could do it…
I think there’s only one way to secure our polls. ID cards, yes, of course, but also voting in person. Early voting allowed only by reason of absence and/or job won’t let you out. And that allowed only on specific days (Say the Sunday before) and no votes touched/counted till then. And no results even spoken of till three days after the voting, to make sure everything is counted.
But in this our corrupt time, I sat and voted at my kitchen table yesterday — a serious violation of the secrecy of the ballot. Oh, not for us. We’re a decent family. We each sat and voted and though husband and I traded jokes about some of the initiatives like the
we really want to keep the money we overcharged you on yet another excuse this year Storm Water initiative, I didn’t even glance at his ballot, much less the boys’ ballots. But I imagine situations of abuse or even just well intentioned interference. Secrecy, what secrecy? And that without counting rampant intent to commit fraud — and filled out my vote.
It might count for nothing, mind. I know. I’m not an idiot. The elections have been corrupted since Motor Voter, when you didn’t have to show proof of citizenship to get a voter’s registration. Now, it’s just silly how easy it is to commit fraud.
But for the good of everyone, including those who think it’s their right to commit fraud in order to hold onto power over those “less capable” people, nota bene — I experienced almost cathartic relief in voting against you.
What does that mean? Well, like my little protest vote in Portugal, there is relief and empowerment in being able to say “This is my middle finger. You can’t have my vote.”
In Portugal, at least, I knew my vote was counted. Useless, but counted.
That relief I experienced yesterday? If my candidate loses (and there’s a good chance, because see rampant fraud) and you manage to reinstate One Idea Mark Uterus then it will become obvious I might as well have written my choices in a paper and thrown it away. And then next time the election will bring no cathartic relief. For me or anyone else.
And that’s the road to revolution.
When you rule over the people against their will, it’s not going to end well. You might think you have the tech and the ability to keep power and convince people it’s for the best. I shall remind you that the soviet union called itself “scientific” too, and that you fourth generation authoritarians aren’t even that capable.
Can you hold onto power? Sure, for a little while. But these regimes always end in tears for everyone. And the more ground you take, the worse it will get.
The certainty that your vote counted; the legitimacy of elections is the only way we have to keep peace over a large populace.
I don’t care if Marx told you you’d inherit the Earth. I don’t care if you’ve been telling yourselves for generations that people really want your rule, they just don’t know it.
I counsel for your sake, as well as ours, that you step back before you step out into the abyss.
Whether the abyss is Irish democracy or armed revolt, you won’t like us when we’re angry.