The other day I received my red-white-and-blue tri-fold for Request-A-Ballot for the Hillsborough County General Election. It had that political propaganda look and almost went the way of so many Frank Farkas fliers.
But the photo of Buddy Johnson and a prominent exclamation point caught my attention. “Vote in the comfort of your own home!” is not without appeal. You fill out a form; affix a stamp; send it on in; and you’re on your dutiful way. No election-day lines plus “more time to review your ballot and make your choices.”
Sounds like a deal. If you’re in traction or out of town, it’s a godsend to be sure. Your voice will be heard. If it’s a democratic responsibility to vote, it’s surely a democratic duty to accommodate voters’ special needs.
But should voting, absent any extraordinary circumstance, be as easy — and more to the point, as insular — as a Netflix order? Not to sound like a franchise fossil, but in an increasingly impersonal, wired world, we have precious few opportunities for meaningful communal interaction. To gather as a community and a neighborhood and rally around something other than sports teams.
If nothing else, in-person voting can, however briefly, return us to a simpler, more intimate time. Whether Republican, Democrat or Independent, we are forced to flee, however briefly, our narrow, self-reinforcing political universes.
We are reminded that for all of our polarizing differences, what we have in common is affirming and precious – an abiding appreciation of the ballot box and a collective sense of purpose.