The ones who didn’t register to vote

When I turned 18, I registered to vote. Just like when I turned 16, I took a driver’s test. During my latter years in high school, I watched a lot of MTV. The VJ on TRL said it was important to vote. So I tried.

But because of college, I somehow couldn’t myself to the polls back in my hometown. I didn’t vote in 2000. It was time. In 2004, I voted. For Gore. I couldn’t vote for any of the other propositions because I didn’t know what they were. So I didn’t vote for or against. I should never make an uninformed decision, I thought.

Yesterday at my mom’s birthday lunch (she brought it up), we talked about the propositions. As generational divides are, we had different opinions on the presidential candidate and the propositions. I am a San Franciscan. I lived in life surrounded by diversified people and choose to engage myself in liberal media. My mom listened to the conservative Chinese radio and had friends from Church. I knew better than to make it a heated conversation.

Suddenly I heard something from my aunt. A small voice. She rarely attended family events because she was busy. She worked two jobs. No kids. She was almost 50 years old. Married. She was the one who introduced my dad (her brother) to my mom (her nursing school classmate). She stood shorter than me and had a laugh that was infectious like my dad’s oldest sister.

“I am not registered to vote,” she said as a silence wavered over the table. “Never thought to do it.”

Breaking the silence, I tried to repeat David Sedaris’ joke about undecided voters. Nobody understood it.

I indirectly asked to nobody in particular, “So if you don’t register to vote, then you don’t have to do jury duty?”

Chris assured me there were other ways to get called into jury duty.

My grandparents shut in by language barriers often listen to what their friends and church tell them to do. Also sometimes, my mom gives them a cheat sheet to follow when voting.

Chris says that he is a staunch Democrat, very active in the clubs in high school and college. He says he reads the voter’s pamphlet thoroughly. I tried scanning them yesterday, but like everyone else, I felt a little dazed and confused.

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