So this Tuesday I went out to vote. It was a nice cold Fall day so I bundled up with a sweater (I’m still trying to hold off on coats, in denial I know…) walked over the polling place which is at a local college’s athletic? building. Very pretty colored leaves all over the sidewalks made a nice crunch. It was all very easy, gave her my name and she gave me the form. I filled it out like the SAT’s, clearly bubbling in the ones I wanted from the choices. (When in doubt, choose B… j/k :)) Actually it reminded me A LOT of all those multiple-choice electronically scanned exams I’ve taken in my life lol. You even sit at a desk cubbyhole!
Anyhow what struck me in talking to Muslims is many of them don’t vote! And it’s not like they all don’t want to, they just have no idea how to go about it. They also don’t know why they should vote. “What difference does it make I’m one person blah blah blah.” Well you do know Muslims’ communities are getting larger and larger. We have thousands of people in most communities. And voting for the right person in the right position can make a difference in:
- -whether or not your Mosque gets built
- -whether or not the US works to retreat from war, or build more war (iran?!)
- -whether we have racial profiling as part of law or those ‘see you naked’ machines in our airports
- -whether school books can contain anti-Islam material or as some (stupid) people believe pro-Islam material! (called the truth)
- -whether muslim girls have to swim with guys in gym class
- - things like affirmative action may determine whether or not you get that job
- -what legislation against immigrants will be like
- -whether muslim girls are allowed to wear niqab/hijab in schools or in gov’t ids
- -”anti-shariah” laws??? so ridiculous!
- -there are so many issues on the local level and national that are important to us, and will end up affecting us directly one day in our own personal life. we NEED to vote.
So here’s my easy 5 step guide to voting for Muslims.
Sidways rant: (Someone once got upset that I add “for Muslims” when I write blogs. D’uh I want Muslims to find and read this and they’re usually specific to Muslim type issues. Yes I could write an Etiquette Guide for Everyone, but what’s the point when it’s tailored for Muslims. The other problem is people think “for Muslims” means this is a religious Fatwa. D’uh again. If you think voting/etiquette or whatever else I write about is Haram don’t read it! Ok Thanks.)
How to Vote for Muslims
1. The first thing you have to do is get registered. This is filling out a little form and mailing it in. These forms are usually available at your post office, library and various other places. You can also find them online by typing in “voter registration form” and your state. The only negative to ‘registering to vote’ is that you are placed in the jury pool. Now this might scare you, but first of all, employers are required to give you time off to go. Second your chances of getting picked to serve are like nil. They take one look at Muslims and send them home. If you do get picked, you do get compensated for every day you’re there. You can also file some kind of exemption thing if you’re anti being on a jury. If you ask me, they need intelligent Muslims to be on juries and it must be an interesting experience! I also heard you get put on the draft list for men, but we have two wars going on right now and they still haven’t gone that route. You can bet how unpopular that would be so doubt it’ll ever happen. (You can make sure you’re registered by checking online. For New York state use this: https://voterlookup.elections.state.ny.us/votersearch.aspx )
2. Find your polling place. They try to spread out polling places throughout neighborhoods, usually in schools, colleges, office buildings to make it easier for people to vote. Just enter your address here and it will tell you exactly where your polling station is: http://maps.google.com/vote
3. OK. Now comes the fun part. Look up who is running (http://www.smartvoter.org) and will be on your ballot and then do some research on them. Don’t forget about the races for local school board, city council or judges. Check your local newspaper for more voter guides to what and who else will be on your ballot. Who is the least Islamophobic? :p Who is pro-religious freedom? Has anyone visited your local Mosque or been supportive when hate-crimes occur to us and so on. What’s their stand on various issues important to us and you personally. Ask some media/political savvy Muslims their opinions. This usually ends up being the Muslim law students ! Decide who you want to vote for and write them down.
4. So now on election day, GO to your polling place. There are usually some people at various tables to greet you. And they’re VERY friendly about helping you usually. They must give these ppl free donuts and coffee or something! They usually direct you by your address to your table (usually your ward or something?). They ask for your name, look you up, and ask for id. A driver’s license will usually do it. Then they ask you to sign your signature. Then they give you the voting form.
5. Take the voting form to your cubbyhole and fill it out. (If you have electronic or manual booths, go ahead into those and vote. Follow the directions on how to do that.) Ask if you have any questions. When done, you feed your form into a machine that scans it and counts your votes.
That’s it you’ve voted!! Congrats. InshaAllah you’re making the world a better place for all of us!
So did you vote? Why or why not?