I couldn’t help but feel extremely prejudice afterward. Embarrassed with myself though I hadn’t even said or done anything, but it was all in my head buzzing around like a fly near a pile of shit, as are many of my embarrassing moments. Though, I felt that I should have known better about it. Like I should be better informed about that kind of situation. Like I ought to by some kind of social unimind that’s telapathically embedded into my already corrupted and defective brain.
It was the Primaries. I had just walked out of the booth when I saw the group come in. As they sauntered in slowly, some in a daze and clearly not very present, and some very hyper asking lots of questions and seemingly not very interested in the present task, I felt myself tense up with anxiety. A million questions ran through my head as I wondered about it. Clearly, they were all special needs individuals. Clearly they were all American citizens, but as I walked away from the voting booth and to my car, I wondered if they were going to let them vote…like…all of them.
I grew up with a mother who worked with special needs individuals. She was an educator and often worked with both children and adults. Most of he people she worked with were mentally disabled (not sure if that is the politically correct term, but at the time that’s what they were referred to as and that’s the term I grew up with), and only some were also physically disabled. I grew up around those kinds of people and interacted with them regularly. Of course as I grew older and built my own friendships I didn’t really have very many special needs friends, or at least, any that had severe mental disabilities. A few had physical disabilities, but most of them were fairly cognitive. Though, as I saw the group as I was leaving the primary election booth, I worried about their state of mind. I recalled some of the more severely mentally handicapped individuals my mother taught. I suppose as American citizens they had the same right to vote as I did, but I wondered how that worked…and if there were some kind of limitations or if they got some kind of help with voting. Did the ballots looked different? Did someone come in the booth to help them? Or did they let the individuals “vote” without expecting them to actually have valid ballots?
Today I was speaking with one of the volunteers at the museum about voting. She said she had contacted a writer to encourage his readership to vote, and he had replied that he wouldn’t think of doing it, because he knew there were plenty of people who read his writing that had “no place voting based on ignorance alone” as he put it. I expressed to her how I had dealt with the thoughts and feelings of seeing the special needs individuals at the polling place. How I had wondered, in my own ignorance, how they were expected to vote. We briefly discussed possibilities that only a few had enough knowledge to know what’s going on and perhaps the caretakers couldn’t leave the others behind. We speculated perhaps it was the caretakers that were voting an not the rest of the group at all? Perhaps, they just let the severely handicapped ones try, without the deep expectation that they would have valid ballots? Whatever the case, it made me wonder a great deal about this election. What extra lengths an individual had to go through if they had a disability, like being blind, deaf, or had mental cognitivity issues? What effect would that have on the election if at all? Did those individuals I saw that day actually vote? Were there actually people out there, who didn’t have any place voting? Would someone who is of a mental disability of some kind qualify if severely so?
Even more upsetting I worried about the ethics. Are there people out there being used for the specific (abusive) perpose of being a body that can vote? I suppose that kind of evil exists in the world. I suppose that people will often teach their sons and daughters to vote like them just to have another box checked for the candidate. Still, I can’t help but speculate and question the situation…and I certainly find myself distressed as I think about it.
I don’t expect to have these questions answered. I realize this is an extremely touchy subject. I realize that most people don’t want to know about this kind of thing if it hasn’t touched their lives. All I know is this election is extremely controversial in and of its self, and that I saw something that left me with a great deal of emotions and made me realize my own personal ignorance. I don’t want anyone to be denied the right to vote, but at the same time, how do we deal with a public that clearly doesn’t have the cognitivity to vote?