Sunday, October 05, 2008

A Vote to be Counted

It was cell group night and the big back room hummed with conversation and laughter as we shared a meal.

Around the big, oval table, there were three generations of our family, and friends who had gathered to do a study after supper.

Brenda was still dressed in a suit jacket and skirt as she hadn’t changed since coming home from work. She was animatedly telling a funny story from her day, when we heard the distant chime of the doorbell from the front of the house.

I opened the door to find a canvasser from one of the main political parties, holding a clipboard. A young girl that looked like she might be his daughter was with him. He wanted to verify the people he had on his list as residing in our home and also asked if we planned to vote in the upcoming election.

I quickly confirmed the names, and said that Paul and I would be voting.

“What about Brenda?” he asked.

“She doesn’t vote,” I said, sure that I remembered that from a recent conversation.

“Oh,” he said, with an understanding tone, “you mean she can’t get out any more; she’s an older person?”

“No,” I said, really wanting to get back to the group, “she can vote, but she just chooses not to.”

He looked down at his chart with furrowed brow, “I’m not sure how to record that,” he said, obviously disappointed. He scribbled something, said goodnight, and went off into the dark night, headed for one of our neighbours.

“Who was that?” Paul asked when I got back to the table.

I repeated the conversation I’d had with the man at the door, and when I got to the part about Brenda not voting, she grasped the table with both hands, her eyes wide, and spluttered in staccato syllables, “What?! Democratic process! Important!” I realized I’d made a mistake.

“I’m so sorry, I was sure you’d said you weren’t voting! But quick,” I said, “you can probably catch them; they were headed for one of the neighbours, although I’m not sure which side.”

She jumped up; ran down the hall, through the front door, and out into the dark night in her business suit and heels, leaving all of us in the dust, laughing nervously at the vehemence of her reaction at my mistake.

She came back a few moments later, dishevelled but with a triumphant gleam in her eye. It turned out she’d spotted the canvasser at the neighbour’s door and hid behind the trees until they were done. Then she emerged from the dark shadows and cried, as she approached them, “I vote!”

Brenda said to the startled man, “I can’t believe that after 36 years, my mom doesn’t know that I vote!”

“Did you give her a hard time?” he wanted to know, as he corrected his form; and she confirmed that she had.

While it unfolded like a scene from a crazy television situation comedy, I admit I was glad to discover that I was wrong, and that our daughter is passionate about voting, a right that was so hard won for women.

The whole of North America is in pre-election fever, even Bond Head; and I can't help but think of the apostle Paul's words to the young Timothy.

1 Timothy 2:1-2 (New Century Version)
1 First, I tell you to pray for all people, asking God for what they need and being thankful to him.2 Pray for rulers and for all who have authority so that we can have quiet and peaceful lives full of worship and respect for God.


Dave Hingsburger said...

I find it disconcerting that the elections guy automatically assumed that 'not voting' was because of a disability or an infirmity. When I voted there were people with disabilities lined up! The preconception of disability as an 'inability to participate' is upsetting to me. As a passionate voter, I was pleased to hear that yours is a family that votes. Go Brenda!

Belinda said...

Yes I agree. Actually people with disabilities I've asked about voting feel as passionate as Brenda about their vote being counted.

Andrea Shettle, MSW said...

I, too, find it upsetting. Hasn't the guy ever heard of absentee balloting for people who absolutely cannot get to the polling booth? Or accessible booths for people who can?