First of all, it’s not your fault. Well, no, it is your fault, but it’s not entirely your fault. For all our talk of free, fair and open elections (and we do looove to talk about them in this country, don’t we?), it can be surprisingly difficult to ascertain in this freaking huge county of Philadelphia whether or not you are actually allowed to vote for your future President. Identity crises can be provoked; you may suddenly find yourself wondering if, according to the great and terrifying bureaucracy, you are actually a resident of Pennsylvania, you are actually over the age of 18, and you do actually have a sound enough mind to work a voting booth lever.
It’s a scary thought: Who holds the magical piece of paper that proves your existence anyway? What if they’ve lost it since the last election? What if, even if you didn’t miss the deadline but just managed to get it in under the wire, the oh-so-trusty U.S. mail service has lost your registration application and all your rights of citizenship with it?
Add to this the fact that the registration center for Philadelphia county was, this year, located in an unmarked office building across the street from a Lukoil and down the street from the Sugar House Casino, and yes, sure, OK, much as the right to vote is extended to all citizens, state bureaucracy doesn’t make it exactly simple sometimes.
Except that this is America, the birthplace of democracy in the freaking free world, and if you can’t suck up some complications in order to participate in your own participatory government, then you really need to get your life in order.
Which brings me to the following: SIX WAYS TO FIX YOUR LACK OF DEMOCRATIC ENGAGEMENT.
1. Move to Nebraska. You can register the same day you declare residency, and you’ve got until the second Friday before the election, or October 26th. Great Plains, lots of corn, and, with a whopping 1.8 million inhabitants, your vote will actually count.
2. Move to New Jersey. You have till the 12th. I hear there are some lovely condos available in Cherry Hill.
3. Find an otherwise apathetic but somehow accidentally registered friend, ply them with wine or compliments, then convince them of your political viewpoints/bribe them to sign some sort of binding legal document stating their determination to vote according to your wishes.
4. Become a Harry Potter wizard, get that illegal Imperius curse down sometime before November 6th, and skip all the hassle and potential monetary burden of #3.
5. Come up with a very convincing and heartbreaking excuse and call 215-686-1500 (assuming you live in Philadelphia county). Talk to one of the very nice and probably very tired ladies working the registration desk, plead your case, and see if you can hop in your car right now and fill out a form. It’s worth a shot.
6. Don’t worry about it; you still have a chance to make your mark on American democracy with this delightful contest from Pizza Hut.
Godspeed, shame on you, and may someone have mercy on your soul if you actually enter that freaking contest in #6.