What is your voting plan? | Opinion | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

What is your voting plan?

click to enlarge CP PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: ABBIE ADAMS
CP Photo Illustration: Abbie Adams
In my mid-teens, when I went out to trick or treat with gusto, my costume was “hobo,” which is probably a poor term to use. But the idea was a 1920s person riding trains and living off the land, misrepresented and romanticized in movies like Sullivan’s Travels. A freedom that came from the loss from the Great Depression. You have nothing, so nothing to lose, maybe even nothing to gain, but at least you can be on your own, making your own way.

This year, voting feels like we are all making our own way.

There is no real Election Day 2020. Election Day was last week, today, tomorrow, and through whatever day the last ballots will be counted. Before 2020, unless I was traveling, voting meant walking a few blocks, checking to see if my dad beat me to the polls — yes, always, except one time, and I yelled it out loud in the polling place: “Hot damn, I beat my dad here for the first time!” — then doing the thing, getting the sticker, and being very proud of myself for it all.


What is your voting plan? Has it replaced the usual mid-to-late October question of, “What are you going to be for Halloween?” I miss trick or treating. No, I miss the free candy. I miss the joy of voting, too. The ceremony, the community, the feeling of getting something worthwhile for the effort.

I requested a ballot for the November General Election, and I got rejected because it was a duplicate. I had forgotten I asked for mail-in ballots for future elections as well. But I had fun worrying myself all about it until the ballot showed up. Then more questions arose. Do I or do I not mail in my ballot? Is my ballot, my ballot? Is that my name on the ballot? When I fill it out, do I drop it off or mail it? If I mail it, where? How long do I wait to see if it arrived? Was it counted?

My ballot was mailed and vote recorded all within the same week. I worried for nothing.

I want to make this really clear. I love to vote. Nerd alert — on my 18th birthday, the first thing I did was walk down to Grant Street to the City County Building and register to vote.


And now we are bombarded with messages like “Vote or Die,” which, as someone pointed out on Twitter, is disingenuous because many of us “Vote AND Still Die” at the hands of state-sponsored violence. People invoke the name of honored ancestors and civil rights icons like John Lewis who represents many Black Americans and other marginalized people who were brutalized, or even died, to vote.

Their belief in the American experiment motivated their drive. Their belief, expressed by Langston Hughes in the poem Let America Be America Again:

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath,
America will be!

In 2020, do we share this belief?

I posted a selfie of myself dropping off my ballot and tagged a friend who was mailing “I Voted” stickers to friends. A way of getting some of that missed community back. My eyes do not look happy in that image. They look as if I am conducting a much needed chore.

Maybe just like a chore, if it is not done, the garbage will pile up, attracting roaches and whatever else. So all I can think is: Vote. Anyway. And. Also. Do. All. The. Other. Things. We need to take out the garbage.

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