I voted Green, and gosh, I hope my vote gets counted
By Lynne Serpe
Its not easy being green. I used to say that if I had a nickel for every time a journalist opened an article or used that expression in a headline, Id be rich.
Of course, I would also be exaggerating: the Green Party hasnt been covered in the mainstream media nearly enough to make me even financially solvent at five cents a reference. Especially this year, when it seemed like other third party or independent presidential candidates were getting covered more often than Cynthia McKinney, former six-term congresswoman (although still nothing like the free media the two-major party candidates receive every day).
I just voted McKinney/Clemente on the Green Party line here in New York state. Greens and other activists had to gather 15,000 valid signatures from registered voters in the six (hot and humid) weeks between July 8 and Aug. 19 in order to give the voters in our state that choice.
But I dont know if my vote will be counted because I had to cast a provisional ballot since I wasnt listed on the voter roll.
Uh-oh.I had been sent an article last week about how 1.6 million voters were being purged from the voters list. I even forwarded it around, and when I was interviewed about provisional ballots the other week, I referenced it. But I didnt think it would happen to ME.
A very nice poll worker asked me if I had experienced a problem voting in the primary. My answer? I didnt vote in the primary. Im a Green (listed as other here in New York) so I wasnt allowed to vote in the presidential primary in February or the state primary in September. My taxpayer dollars, however, were used to pay for it. But thats another rant for another day.
I registered at my current address last year, and received confirmation that my registration was received. When I returned from casting my provisional ballot, I checked the state elections website, and, sure enough, Im listed at that address. Except I am also listed as inactive.
Im told I probably wouldnt be listed as inactive just because I didnt vote in the last two primary elections. But I dont know what else to think.
I received 11 pieces of mail from the Board of Elections, acknowledging my registration, my address and my polling site. I brought all 11 pieces of mail to the BOE just in case I had problems (and displayed them all, one by one, to the poll supervisor). As a third party member, I am no longer surprised when I have problems voting for the candidate of my choice but I am annoyed. No, frankly, I am pissed off.
I was given a paper affidavit ballot to fill out, and an envelope to put it into. Unlike California, which would give me a receipt and a phone number to call in twenty days to see if my vote was actually counted, I got nothing.
In eight days, provisional ballots will be counted. Candidates and political parties receive a notice saying when it will happen, and I should be able to go observe watch for hours and hours, hoping to be there and observing the right station when my envelope is found. If I am so lucky, then and only then will I know if my vote gets counted.
In 2004, the Green Party stood up for the voters in Ohio and demanded a recount of the presidential vote. We did so not because we expected to win, or because we expected to change the outcome of the election we did so because it is important for people to have faith in the voting system, to know whether their vote was counted.
Four years later, voters around the country are still experiencing problems at the polls. Far too many voters face much greater barriers to participation than I did: felony disenfranchisement laws, voter ID laws, and voter intimidation ... the shameful list goes on.
Some claim that a vote for the Green Party is a wasted vote anyway. But I disagree. There are many reasons I vote for Green Party candidates. I agree with the 10 Key Values of the Green Party; I believe in multi-party democracy and that diverse viewpoints at the legislative table would create better public policy; I believe that we need to look at problems holistically; that there are finite resources on this planet that we need to use wisely; and that people should come before profit.
The Green Party has a vision and a plan for a just, peaceful and sustainable world. This is a legacy I wish to leave behind, a vision to fight for, and a party to vote for.
This is why I find it easy to be green.
So I will choose to have faith that my vote will be counted, and join with countless others to improve our democracy until every voter can feel the same.