On Nov. 5, I woke up at 7:45 a.m. I poured myself a cup of coffee. I packed my lunch. I checked my Instagram. I made a smoothie. I brushed my teeth. I got dressed. I told my boyfriend to have a great day. I walked to my car. I drove to work. I didn’t vote.
That’s how my morning ended, but it’s not how it began. When I woke up at 7:45 a.m. on Nov. 5, I had the best intentions to exercise my right. I woke up with a desire to vote because, as a young person, I know how important it is. I also know that many people my age (I’m 28) and younger don’t take advantage of the opportunity. I didn’t want to be part of that statistic.
To be honest, I haven’t voted since I moved to Charlotte in August 2017, and that’s because I was uninformed. I was new to the area and it didn’t feel like home yet. I didn’t know what the hot-button issues were or who was making the decisions. I didn’t have an opinion on what’s best for Charlotte and Mecklenburg County because I hadn’t lived here long enough.
It’s been two years and now I know more. I’ve met the decision-makers, attended government meetings, written and read stories about the hot-button issues and listened to our “Coffee with a Candidate” podcasts. I feel more informed now than ever before and when I woke up at 7:45 a.m. on Nov. 5, I was ready to finally cast my vote.
As a first-time voter, I wasn’t sure where my polling place was, so I grabbed my phone, logged on to the state board of elections website and typed in my address. I was re-directed to a page that read, “Sorry, something went wrong. The web function you were interacting with has encountered an error. There is an issue with the specific function or the information you entered for the function. Access is denied.”
Maybe I never registered to vote? I went back to the homepage and entered my name to check my voter registration, but got the same error message. I tried the website in a different browser, but it still wasn’t working. I typed and re-typed my name and address several times to no avail.
Maybe it’s just not working on my phone? I texted my managing editor and he tried the same search on his laptop with the same result. It seems the state board of elections website wasn’t working on Election Day. Go figure.
I called the board of elections office in Raleigh and spoke to a receptionist about the problem. She was aware and said that someone was working to fix it. I tried a few more times after that, but the site was still down.
By the time I gave up, it was 8:45 a.m. and my window to vote before work was closed. I didn’t have the day off and I don’t work close to where I live, so voting on my lunch break wasn’t going to happen. I could go after work, but on Tuesdays I’m usually at my desk until 7 or 8 p.m. and polls close at 7:30 p.m.
The site was back up by the time I got to work, but it was too late for me. I wonder how many other people also missed the opportunity to vote before work and how it will affect the results, but mostly I wonder how this could even happen.
It’s 2019 and we can do better. I mean, the new iPhone has three cameras, my dentist office texts me 24 hours before my appointment and Old Navy emails me every day with ads for cozy sweaters, but I never received any voting information electronically.
To be fair, I haven’t checked my physical mailbox in about a week. Maybe there’s something in there, but that’s not enough in 2019. People need to be called, texted, emailed, Facebook messaged, Instagrammed and Snapchatted. At the very least, the state board of elections website should be working on Election Day.
On Nov. 5, I woke up at 7:45 a.m. I poured myself a cup of coffee. I packed my lunch. I checked my Instagram. I made a smoothie. I brushed my teeth. I got dressed. I told my boyfriend to have a great day. I walked to my car. I drove to work. I didn’t vote, but I wanted to.