The sour-faced woman raised her eyebrows after scanning my ID card. “I’m sorry, we can’t accept your vote.”
“What? Why not? I’ve voted at this polling place for the past 12 years. I’ve never missed an election. What’s wrong?”
“It seems that your citizenship is in question. We can’t just let anyone vote, you know.” She said this with a smirk and dismissive wave of her hand.
“Let me talk to your supervisor; this is ridiculous. I was born in this country!” I replied, my face getting red and my voice rising.
“I AM the supervisor. You’ll have to take this up with the County Clerk after the election,” was her answer. Which made me even more angry.
“If you don’t leave, I’ll have to call the authorities to remove you. We can’t have your kind blocking the way for those who are qualified to vote.”
My next stop was City Hall, but the Clerk was engaged in election details and wasn’t available. I was handed a sheet of paper to fill out and return for review along with an original birth certificate and government ID. Apparently a law had been quietly passed that required all voters with non-citizen parents to re-qualify for voting rights prior to this election. It was one of those ballot measures that sounds like the answer to our country’s problems in one hundred words or less.
I’m American. I was born in the local hospital, went through the local schools, paid my taxes and served in the Marines. Truth be told, I only enlisted for the GI Bill. My parents couldn’t afford to pay for college and I always dreamed of being the first in my family to earn a degree. But I ended up serving two tours, only leaving to fulfill my college dream. I loved being in the military. It was patriotism in the truest sense: writing a blank check to the United State of America and being willing for them to cash in with my life as collateral at any given time. My boss was the Commander-In-Chief: all hail the President!
But all of a sudden I can’t vote and my years of military and community service are erased. I am nobody. I don’t belong in the country where I was born and have lived and worked and loved. I not only have no voice, but even if I had, no one cares to listen. If I don’t leave on my own accord, I will be jailed and forcibly escorted to the border of my heritage but not my heart.
Where will I go? I am tired and poor and I yearn to breathe free. Where is this “Golden Door” inscribed on the Statute of Liberty?
The Golden Door is The Voting Booth.
Vote! It’s not just your right, it’s your responsibility as a citizen! www.Vote.org
Written for To Live & Write in Alameda’s October Flash Fiction Challenge #10, “The Voting Booth.” We had three days to write a 500 word short story and share with our group.
If you have a writer’s soul and live in Alameda, please join our group! No experience necessary … members range from those who dream of writing the Great American Novel to published authors. No dues, many free daily/weekly meet-ups, reasonably priced workshops and focus groups and retreats, and tons of encouragement and support.
Here’s the link: To Live and Write in Alameda.