So ashamed, I contemplated if I should even share this.
I don’t know what happened.
I checked if I was registered to vote, and it said I was ready to go.
I was so eager to exercise my right to vote that the week early voting opened in Texas, I headed to the polls.
I walked into the building, stood in line, and was quickly greeted by a man passing out stickers that said “I voted.”
I stretched my hand, grabbed my sticker, placed it in my back pocket and immediately started thinking about the photo I would put on Snapchat once I actually finished voting.
The line went by faster than I thought it would. Before I knew it, a woman inside was waving for me to approach her with my ID and information.
I gave her my ID and recited my name and address, ready to vote and make a difference.
She asked me to spell my name. No biggie, happens all the time. Of course, my name is Adunola.
I spelled my name again. Then, she asked me to repeat my address.
It was then, I had a feeling something was wrong.
She asked me which county I registered to vote in?
Naturally, I told her the county that I’m in.
She then informed me that I should see the man across the room in the blue and white plaid shirt.
SOMETHING WAS WRONG, I KNEW IT
But, I couldn’t believe it because I was registered to vote.
Remaining calm and optimistic, I walked over to the man across the room and waited for him to finish his conversation.
The woman he was speaking to seem to be in a jam as well. After a few moments, she filled out a piece of paper and he informed her that she could now go vote.
This made me confident. I sat down and told him my situation: supposedly, I’m not registered to vote in this county.
He picks up the phone and calls someone.
He gives that someone my information, and that someone checks to see if I’m registered to vote.
Apparently, I wasn’t.
I wasn’t registered to vote.
Here I was, at the polls early, ready to do my part as a citizen. And, I was denied access to vote, because I mistakenly thought I was registered – and I wasn’t.
The man in the blue & white plaid shirt proceeds to explain to me how I managed to make such a mistake. He then tells me that I could fill out a green form and in 30 days I will be able to vote, if there is a runoff. If there is a runoff?! Please.
I filled out the green form anyway, returned it and left – with the “I voted” sticker still in my back pocket, feeling like an irresponsible citizen of the United States of America, denied access to vote for the next president of our country because she mistakenly thought she was registered to vote and she wasn’t.
THE PAIN CUT DEEP
Instantly, I thought about those convicted felons who do not have a reason to go to the polls because they can’t vote.
I thought about the immigrants in America, who wish they could become citizens of the United States so that they could participate in such an act. Yet, they can’t vote.
I thought about the friends and other millennials I know, who only care about the election as much as their social media timeline cares, and who will probably not vote in this election or any other election because they believe their vote doesn’t count.
And, I thought about how I have now joined the category of those who will not be voting in this election of one reason or the other.
After I got over myself and let go of what I cannot control, I decided that the next best thing I could do is share my story with those who can vote.
So, go vote. You must, because you can.
STAY EDUCATED & MAKE AN IMPACT
Skip the lines next Tuesday and go vote this week, find a location closest to you here.
If you have questions about who’s running, or if you want to know more about what you should bring to the polls in your state, Rock the Vote has you covered.
As millennials and young professionals, we can make a difference. Take a look at what would happen if only Millennials voted in this election. Stay educated and do something with your right to vote. Don’t be like me this election season.
UPDATE: I voted! I discovered that my registration information was outdated, but I was able to update my information and cast a limited ballot for federal and statewide races. If you’re told that you’re ineligible to vote in your particular county and you know that you previously registered, check to see if you can cast a limited ballot. This will allow you to still vote in the presidential election. Cheers to making a difference!