Tho I did not request this, when I got to my polling place today, the state of California had marked me down as a vote by mail voter, something I have never done: I've always gone to vote in person, including during the recent primary.
I did get a ballot in the mail, but didn't fill it out because this is too important to me to do by mail. I haven't voted in a federal election as a California resident since 2004, so wasn't sure if ballot by mail was simply an option offered to everyone, or what. I did use the corresponding information packet to figure out my yay or nay on the 17 propositions. 17!
I was ready to roll. Then,
the young dude poll worker checking me in saw that, much to my surprise, I was down in the book as vote by mail and went, "No, sorry; you voted by mail."
As if, "Oh, yes; I cede my rights to you--of course, dude." Or: "Oh, right; I'm such a silly. I forgot I already voted. Good thing you're here to tell me what I've done, having just met my silly self."
Instead, it was: "No, sorry, I didn't; I always vote in person and I'm here to exercise my right to do so again today."
You know, if I were older, younger, less educated, less determined, less informed, etc., I can see how his immediate dismissal of me as a voter would have resulted in my being turned away from exercising my right to vote, which...why is that his priority?
Fortunately, the older man working next to the younger dude had better priorities and, it turns out, was a long-time in-person voter like me. He said they'd give me a provisional ballot and urged me to call the registrar and complain about the change in status. Cool. Even if the word "provisional" was a bit worrying...however, I was well past the deadline to vote by mail, so what choice did I have?
I was annoyed, but courteous. I did not yell. I begin to go through this list, first in my mind, as, sure, a self check on my behavior, but also because men have been so quick, throughout, well, the ages to pin the "crazy" label on us women--simply for doing something they didn't like, such as, say, requesting then demanding then winning the right to vote. This seems to continue to this day. Men decide a behavior a woman does is problematic and go about "correcting" it. Perhaps the behavior is not problematic; perhaps they just prefer more submissive women. And that's their right--in their personal lives. What I don't think is right, in contrast to 53 percent of white women, is trying to legislate all women based on submissive, gender role, anti-choice preferences. I've had decades to think about how this echos into certain behaviors certain men have exhibited, and (alas) continue to exhibit, and I don't think it's ill intended in general, though of course from some it is. However, I'm not interested in being cast as a bit player, or as confused, or as nuts for not being deferential. I'm just interested in mutual respect and clear communication. We don't need to get all involved in your extracurricular expectations.
So, alright, the older gentleman poll worker set me up and off I go to the provisional ballot table (knock wood), led by older man poll worker 2, who seems to think he needs to guide me, walking as close as possible and scrutinizing my face and the emotion he is reading there--why, I don't know, though see the latter: I'm being cast in some role, even as I sit at the table and begin to fill out the provisional ballot application or information sheet. Even as he leaned over to watch me write, something I've been doing quite some time, he did not give information. He did have the gall to chuckle and tell me to "Calm down; you'll get to vote." Oh, I see: female assertion as attack. Oh, I see, I'm in your fantasy beauty pageant, the scrutinizing, the command, however subconscious, to arrange my facial expression and demeanor to the liking of a man who needs a better focus.
I felt like saying, "Dude, this isn't about you." But he would've gone nuts; I mean, women are crazy, imagining things all of the time, including when you're leaning close enough to touch them as they're trying to fill out voting information and basically mocking them by laughing at them when no one's telling any jokes. That is a bizarre way to treat half the earth's population. That is a bizarre set of expectations to impose on so many strangers. I don't impose that on men; I don't want it imposed on me. And I won't have it: Not Today
So, to recap, that was two of three male poll workers acting like they're granting me some favor here, "letting" me vote. Granted, there was just a public call from certain Trumpers to repeal the 19th amendment, so guess I better smile--I mean: No.
Instead, it was: "I am calm. I don't need you to tell me to calm down. I don't need to listen to you laugh. I just need to vote. Today. Now. Here." For Her.
And so I did. At last!