I always vote. I consider it a duty of citizenship, but it is, at the very least, a right.
When I lived in Arizona, a state not known for its progressive values, I registered to vote at the DMV where I also elected to receive mail-in ballots for every election. The ballots came in the mail several weeks early. I marked them and then put back in the free-mailer envelopes and sent them in. For those who did not trust the mailman, they could also take their ballots to their local polling places on election day and turn them in there.
When I moved to Missouri the process was much more complicated and cumbersome. I first had to go to the DMV and get clearance there - along with new car tags - and then go to the courthouse and register to vote. Missouri has no mail-in ballot option, so I was assigned a polling place - a fundamentalist church on the far side of town. Pa Rock was not pleased about the venue or the distance - but yet I manage to show up and cast my ballot in every election.
County governments across much of the nation set up polling places in buildings that have adequate space and plenty of parking. Schools are commonly used for this purpose, as are government buildings, libraries, and yes, even churches. Going into a church to cast a ballot is not seen as a collusion of church and state - although it clearly is.
I have often muttered that the little old ladies who crowd in around me on election day would not be nearly so chirpy if they had to walk into a mosque to vote. Last week, Palm Beach County, Florida, proved me right.
That county government had polling stations set up in a variety of locations including many of a religious nature. Among other venues, the county had plans for voters to cast ballots in 80 Christian churches, five synagogues or Jewish religious centers, and one mosque. Then, of course the phones started ringing and all hell broke loose. Local patriots were up-in-arms over the idea that a godless mosque would be used for something as American as voting - and violence was even threatened. Ignorance eventually won the day, and the county decided not to use the mosque as a polling station.
Jesus was undoubtedly pleased - and Jesus is, after all, what democracy is all about.
If we must vote in houses of worship, all houses of worship should be allowed into the process - even the ones that feel alien to us. Other options, like voting from home, should also be available. That way, if I do not want to vote in a fundamentalist church, I can mark the ballot in my living room instead.
Voting is a right. Let people exercise that right, America! Support policies like universal registration, mail-in ballots, early voting, and weekend elections. If we truly are a democracy, then everyone should be able and welcome to participate in the process. Let people vote!