By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi
This morning I stopped at our town’s lone high school to cast my vote in the Midterm Elections. Turnout was light I learned from the folks working the poll. I shared with them what I had heard on NPR’s “All Things Considered” yesterday about how nationwide not nearly as many people cast their vote in these vital Midterm Elections. It is in these May elections that we determine whom we wish to run our local government. Why people are too damn lazy to get out and cast their vote is beyond me. I thought of other cultures around the world who sometimes sacrifice their lives merely to vote when they have the opportunity, which is not often.
As I prepared to leave the polling station, a kindly sheriff moved to hold open the door for me. He began to explain to me that after November 2014, I would no longer be able to vote at our neighborhood high school.
“But I have been voting here ever since I moved back to my hometown nearly 24 years ago!” I exclaimed. “This is where I run into neighbors and chat after we have voted!” Indeed, a good friend from the neighborhood appeared at the voting doorstep as the sheriff and I spoke.
“Well, voting is going to be more centralized in the city,” said the sheriff. “People will have a choice of whether to vote using the pen and paper ballot, or to vote using a touch screen computer.”
“I’m surprised they don’t have us voting on our computers,” piped up my friend. “Soon we won’t even have to leave home to vote!”
“It seems the city doesn’t want to foster neighborhood relationships anymore,” I observed. The sheriff, my friend, and I shook our heads in agreement.
I started thinking about how as a child, my parents took me with them to the neighborhood Italian club to vote. My mother and father took turns entering the voting booth, while the other waited outside the booth with me. Voting was a cherished, sacrosanct event for these Italian immigrants. Most of them had grown up under the Fascist dictatorship of Mussolini, and no one was voting under that Black Shirt dictator in Italy. The importance of voting was drummed into me at an early age. I remember one time I forgot to vote in the Midterm Elections. It so traumatized me that I went to Confession and admitted to the priest my irresponsible voting behavior.
The added dimension of voting back in the day at the Italian club was the festive atmosphere. We came and stayed a very long time talking with friends and family, with the elders exchanging stories of the Old Country, and we youngsters giggling and playing hide and seek around the club. It was this camaraderie that also drew members of our Italian community to the voting polls.
When the city reconfigured the voting districts and location of the poles, the Italian club was no longer a designated voting site. It was the first step in the demise of community.
Ciao for now.