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Voting During a Pandemic, Power Outages and the Last Gasp of Democracy

3:48 AM EST on November 5, 2020

With the power still defiantly out in the moderately low-income neighborhood I, unfortunately, live in, the trucks of outsourced electric companies mostly speed right through, never stopping and never repairing anything. At this point, I have to admit I’ve given up on heating, light bulbs and refrigerated food for the rest of the year.

Still, throughout this whole numbing ordeal, the only real fear I’ve truly had the past few days was that I wouldn’t be able to exercise my hard-fought right to vote, my powerless polling place redirecting me to some hidden building that didn’t have my name on file as I’m accused of low-level sedition by a chubby cos-player in surplus military gear, standing back and standing by.

That’s pretty much how I’ve been gastrically gas-lit this entire election cycle and, as the votes are currently being counted and recounted and eventually contested, might still be for quite a while.

My polling place is at the Crestwood Vineyard Church at NW 16th and Villa, just two or three blocks from my house. For the past two or so years I’ve been voting there, I have never waited in line once, typically moving right on in and getting on out. I assume that’s because many of the people in the area just aren’t regular voters, be they undocumented, felonious or disillusioned.

And that’s alright, it’s usually a personal choice and I can’t fault them for it. Maybe I might be there someday too.

Regardless, I figured I wouldn’t have to get there when the polls opened at 7 a.m., instead opting to leave sometime around noon after a cold sponge bath and a lunch of StarKist straight out of the can. Color me somewhat surprised when I got there and the line stretched almost to the corner. While it’s not the three-to-six hour lines that some Oklahoma Cityans dealt with, it was still the longest I’ve ever encountered there.

I was always told that it was verboten to talk politics and such while in line to vote, and I’m sure it would have been hard to anyway standing at, various points, six feet apart. Still, an older neighbor that lived not too far from me introduced herself and starting jawing about my the history of my house and how it used to belong to a former Oklahoman staffer that dared to write a piece blasting Barry Switzer many years ago.

As she talked, I got all my forms of identification ready: voter card, driver’s license, social security card, birth certificate, tribal membership I.D…it was as I was holding that Choctaw-affiliated piece of plastic that I fully realized why it was so important for me, at least, to vote: because the previous Indigenous generations were not allowed to cast a ballot in every state until 1962.

But ain’t that America?

I made my way up to the door of the refurbished basketball gym and waiting patiently in the line that snaked closely to the brick wall, finally reached the spread-out check-in table. With only about an hour of time standing, leaning and waiting, I think I did pretty good, better than others. I gave the officiate my voter card and signed legible on the required line, ballot finally in hand.

Quickly moving to a star-spangled cardboard separator, I gamely blackened the ballot for the one man that promised to make America great again…I’m sorry, even I’m not that grotesquely self-defeating in my non-elected voting behaviors. Of course I ticked the box for Vice President Kamala Harris, with Biden along for the ride, I guess.

As I slid my completed ballots into the electronic counter—I was number 300!—I walked away knowing that maybe we might have changed the course of marked history for this cursed country. That is, until around nine that evening, when I learned the entire state of Oklahoma was bloody red. The entire state.

Of fucking course.


Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler and Instagram at @louisfowler78.

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