LaUra Schmidt and I mailed out our applications for absentee ballots on the same day, in the same sized envelopes from the same post office. Her ballot came, mine didn’t. I assumed it was on the way. Election day inched closer and still no ballot. Friday before the election, I called the Salt Lake County Clerk. They said they had no record of receiving my application. I asked if I could pay to overnight a ballot to me. They said they were not sending out any more ballots. The only way I could vote in this election was to drive the 8.5 hours to Salt Lake City. I asked to complain to someone higher up. They passed the phone onto another person who asked for my details, collected my contact information, and told me she would call when she got to the bottom of what had happened. No one called me back.
We weren’t sure we could make the journey. First we had to check in with our boss about missing work. Then we had to figure out if our already limited pocketbook could handle missing work and travel expenses. We also had to check in with our friend to see if our dogs, Laura, and I could stay with him while in Utah. Everyone was beyond supportive. I did a Facebook post for advice and encouragement. I received tremendous support and several folks offered to donate money to help us make the trip. We didn’t end up taking the donations, because it turned out we didn’t need them. Just knowing the offer was there made us braver. It made taking the risk a lot less scary. It was another reminder for what we emphasize with Good Grief and that is the power of community. With the support and love of our friends and family, we made the journey!
We spent two days in Utah and were reminded why we love it there. The mountains welcomed us home while friends showered us with hugs. I cast my vote and felt grateful to be able to walk the walk after having talked the talk for many years about the power of voting.
It’s important to show up, even when we don’t know the outcome. For those of us concerned with social justice issues, inequality, or climate change, casting a ballot is using our (civic) voice to protect those most vulnerable and exploited.Voting makes a statement and is one of the easiest ways to participate in our local and national governments (generally speaking). Each election is an opportunity for the country, state, and local municipality to re-invent itself. Democracy works best when everyone votes, and we need everyone to vote.
The record turnout for these midterms gives me hope. I hope you’re feeling it too.