Moritz: Office effective despite registration conflicts

John Moritz

June 18, 2012, was the day that I was born, or at least that is what my voter registration form said.

It was a good two weeks beyond the voter registration deadline on Oct. 9, and I had been waiting with increasing anxiety and frustration to see my application process on the website.

Then one Saturday, I checked my mail to find the very form I had filled out more than a month prior, with a birthday labeling me barely four months old highlighted in yellow ink.

In my rush to re-register in the Pennsylvania at one of the registration porto-booths set up in and near Main Campus, I had mistakenly written the date of my birth 19 years after the actual event. Apparently, I haven’t learned a lot in those 19 years.

Luckily, the voter registration office of Philadelphia County — which has been out of the spotlight — quickly handled my mistake. I took note that the staff has been working diligently during election season, while controversy swirls about a voter ID law that has left many voters disillusioned with the voting process.

While state representatives and officials have come under fire for the enjoined law, which as of this Election Day will not be in effect, the people of the state’s voter registration office have been working tirelessly through a non-partisan effort to get as many people registered as possible.

When I received my letter that my registration could not be processed due to an error, my first thought was that, for the second time in as many years, I would be ineligible to vote due to the inefficiency of the bureaucratic system that handles voting.

The letter informed me that I had until Oct. 22 to resubmit my registration. It was late Sunday, I was stuck on Main Campus the next day and I know that the Postal Service never works that fast, even to send something down Broad Street.

However, my calls to the office Monday afternoon were answered by a woman named Donna, who assured me that her office would take the time to process my registration even beyond the deadline. Donna even took the time to take down my information, speak with her supervisor and tell me exactly what I had to do to make sure I would be able to vote Nov. 6.

I made a mistake, and that was my fault. If I had been told “tough luck” by the woman at the voter registration office, I would have accepted the consequences of hurrying my registration.

Last year, however, I was denied my vote by another office in another state, and it was not my fault.

My freshman year, I decided I would continue to vote in my hometown in Connecticut. I submitted my application for an absentee ballot well ahead of schedule and waited.

My wait continued, and by the time I realized that my form had been lost in the system, it was too late.

The city clerk, whose office handles voter registration in my hometown, was running for mayor, and would have had my vote, had his office sent me one. Too bad he ended up losing the election.

I care about my right to vote, and I was mad when my absentee ballot failed to be delivered. That was actually a large part of my decision to re-register in Pennsylvania this fall.

While the state rightfully deserves criticism for an unjust law that could disenfranchise thousands of voters in future elections, the people in the various voter registration offices deserve credit for working overtime to handle the influx of registrations for a major presidential elections.

From my own experience, not every system works as well, and the residents of this state should be thankful that there are people looking out for and working to fulfill our enfranchisement.

John Moritz can be reached at  john.moritz@temple.edu or on Twitter @JCMoritzTU.

 

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