Seniors face gauntlet of obstacles to voting

October 28, 2012

I'm a senior citizen and I don't own a car. I'm registered to vote in Maryland and I would like to cast my ballot next month. However, it's not easy.

I contacted the League of Women Voters to ask if they provide rides to the polling station. It took about three weeks for Susan Cochran, president of the Anne Arundel County LWV, to respond with the following message:

"I suggest you contact your Republican or Democratic Party headquarters. They usually will take you to the polls without asking who you will vote for. And, if asked, just say, it's only your own business. So, good luck and glad you are determined to vote."

I tried finding the Democratic Party contact information online and was hopelessly lost. I contacted the senior center and they don't provide transportation. Apparently, the centers are closed on Election Day.

On Oct. 14, I posted a question about transportation on Steny Hoyer's Facebook page. No response.

The Board of Election does not provide transportation.

Therefore, I applied for an absentee ballot. After I printed, completed and mailed the application, I was told I could have submitted the request electronically. Several days after I mailed it, someone called to verify my address.

Apparently, when I moved several months ago and changed my address with the Board of Elections, I either did or did not include my apartment number. When I filed my absentee request, I apparently did the opposite of what I had done before . They wanted to make sure this was really the address where I wanted the ballot to be sent, although the street name and number were the same.

A week later, the absentee ballot arrived and the return envelope for the ballot says "Extra Postage May be Required." Why would there be any question about this? Either extra postage is required or it isn't. I called the board and was told to add an extra stamp just to make sure it wouldn't be returned.

Years ago, I was a precinct captain, and I knew every person in my precinct, how they were registered, whether they were likely to vote, and whether they needed transportation to the polls. If so, I made sure a ride was provided at a convenient time. That was in the days before computers. We were involved in grass roots participation and we were concerned about government.

Given my experiences this time, I am not surprised that people today are not interested in participating in politics.

Judy Colbert, Glen Burnie

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