Government & Politics

Get Out and Vote…and Get Outta My Way!

After all the struggles groups such as women and blacks have gone through in order to vote in America, the right to vote is still taken for granted – or, worse, ignored – by many.

Voter turnout is typically sparse for local elections. Of course, when it comes to the presidential election, public interest ratchets up a few notches.

I’m not going to complain about those who do or do not exercise their right to vote. I am going to complain about the campaigners who get in your face at the polls – at least in Pennsylvania.

You see, in Florida where I voted for probably half my adult life, campaigners are not allowed to solicit voters within 100 feet of the entrance to a polling facility. Thank you, Florida.

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Not so here in Pennsylvania. It’s like an obstacle course simply trying to make your way down the walkway and through the door. Campaigners flank the sidewalk, waving sample ballots in your face, smiling their Cheshire cat smiles, and blurting out the names of their particular candidate. In fact, one year I had to elbow my way past the campaigners and accidentally bumped one as I, like a football fullback, tried to reach the goal… the polling booth. As I passed her, I heard her outraged complaint about how I almost knocked her over. She’s lucky I didn’t go for the tackle.

I guess you can’t blame them. They’ve got a captive audience. And, during a presidential race, voters could be stuck in line for quite a while.

But seriously? Do they think I’m so naïve or uninformed that, minutes before I enter the polling booth I’ll sway my vote because of their strong-arm tactics? In my book it’s a new form of PR: Political Rudeness. It’s an insult to my intelligence.

Unfortunately, enough voters must be influenced by these carnival-like hawkers to make it worth their while. I wonder if any exit polls have been conducted to find out if these campaign tactics have a negative effect on voters’ behavior at the polls.

In any case, I will make my way to the polls today and put up a brave front against these in-your-face campaigners. (Actually, I try to avoid all eye contact. Maybe today I’ll pretend I don’t speak English.)

So who will be worth of my vote? The candidate who institutes a mandatory “no soliciting at the polls” law across the nation.

Now go do your civic duty.

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