I’ve never quite understood the national debate about getting government out of our bedrooms until election night 2013.
When I showed up at the polling place where my registration card directed me (the Georgia Mountains Center, though the card was posted well after it was no longer the Mountains Center), the staff directed me to another polling site a few blocks away.
I protested and proffered the card. By then, the volunteers were weary from explaining the mistake. Indeed, those staffing the polling place (who were great, by the way) basically didn’t want to hear my woes.
I guess to make me feel better, the poor volunteers even told me about one couple who showed up that day who have lived in the same house for some time and yet were assigned two different precincts. I started thinking about that couple; I think if I were them, I’d feel downright violated. Of course, I’m sure there’s no tangible line running through their bedroom. Still, just to think that some election cartographer spent time thinking about how that house should split, well, it’s kinda creepy. (I’m already beginning to get spooked by the thought of the government having my data anyway.)
And while speaking of bedrooms, I’ve learned that those who relocate into a county and don’t own or rent cannot get the DMV to change the address on their driver’s license. And if you can’t get that license changed, you can’t register with the election commission. So unless you own or rent your bedroom, you can’t vote. There they go again, getting personal about our sleeping arrangements again and, in fact, ruling some out, including university housing for resident scholars, granny flats, etc.)
Of course, I am being facetious about the privacy issue; the real issue is democracy. This voting thing is serious. And while I’m sure there’s nothing deliberate in Georgia about making voting so difficult, any impediment to voting for legal citizens, even unintentional, is serious.
In addition to voting, there’s a general issue of trust in government. Indeed, for many reasons, we should be concerned over laws poorly devised and poorly administered. From such experiences, citizens will come to see local government as unsuitable for being constructive in such things as record-keeping, public infrastructure, etc. Such bad government could lead to a crisis of confidence; for now, thankfully, it’s a crisis confined to them. But as Americans, we should administer very carefully any activity that is that fundamental to our society but which is also so necessarily personal.