Tuesday, February 05, 2008

My Voting Experience

Feministing has a list of feminists who have endorsed either Sen. Hillary Clinton or Sen. Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination. Add Megan and me to that list (Megan for Clinton, and me for Obama)!

Anyway, I want to tell you about my voting experience. Looking back on my voting experience today, it wasn't much different from one of my other voting experiences (November 2006), but I just noticed that it was different this time around. Well, first I'll tell you about what happened in November 2006, which was the first time I voted in person. I'm half Puerto Rican. I have a Hispanic last name, and if I don't look Hispanic, I at least look ethnically ambiguous and can pass from "an Italian on the dark side" to "half Indian." So when I voted in 2006, one of the guys at the voting place was sitting at the end of the table, and he asked me for my driver's license and he spoke to me in Spanish. I don't speak Spanish, but I can understand it when I have to, so I did everything he told me I had to do. I figured he saw my last name on my license and thought I spoke Spanish. End of story. When I went to vote today, one of the women looked at my license and told me that I just have to wait until one of the other ladies was done getting the woman in front of my all sorted out. Fine. The other lady looked at my driver's license and said, "Here, Maria. You can do this one." That's reasonable. I understand that sitting in an elementary school gymnasium for several hours with a few people going to vote here and there can get boring, and maybe Maria hadn't done anything in a while and needed something to do. So she gave Maria, who was sitting at the end of the table, my license. Maria looked at my license, found my name in the book of registered voters in the area, and said "Democratico o Republicano?" And that's when it dawned on me. The person sitting at the end of the table is Spanish-speaking, there to assist the Hispanic voters, even Hispanic voters like me who don't speak Spanish. I understand now. Because I'm Hispanic, I can only speak enough English to pass a citizenship test, but I don't speak enough English to vote without an interpreter. I swear, "Here, Maria. You can do this one" is going to be ringing in my ears for the rest of my life. I should have left the booth without voting and said, "Donde esta, Bill Richardson??? Donde esta mi hermano Mexicano??? Que lastima!!!"


Contrived by D said...

I can't get over this, so I can imagine that this will be ringing in your ears forever.

Wow. I guess we've decided that illiteracy gradually increases with pigmentation.

The ironic thing is, I speak more Spanish that you do, and would have to go in dressed as Don Juan for them to believe that I needed a Spanish interpreter. And even then, they might have just pointed me to a mental health professional before they believed that I was Hispanic.

FEMily! said...

Exactly. It's all because you're not the type of Mexican who wears a sombrero. That is, according to these people, you might as well not be Mexican at all.