Why I'm Sitting Out This Election.

Author:Higgins, Maeve
Position::MAEVE IN AMERICA - Column

Not to be a Negative Nancy, or a Maudlin Maeve, but I want to begin this column by telling you some of the most frustrating things about being an immigrant in America. These are separate from the whole nervous breakdown that is the current administration.

One thing that drives me crazy: food that I expected to be savory actually being sweet, like those terrible dishes at Thanksgiving with marshmallows in them. Then there is the New York City subway system, constantly reminding me of my ex-boyfriend--like him, it's too hot for its own good, it frequently breaks down, and I keep giving it chances when I know I should just walk.

But my number-one frustration about living here is being unable to vote.

I've lived in this country for almost five years but am nowhere close to citizenship. Even legal permanent residents, or green card holders, can vote in local elections only in certain municipalities in three states. One of the most significant privileges of democracy in the United States is the right to vote, and it's reserved practically exclusively for citizens. Yikes!

I can't vote in my native Ireland either; Irish citizens forfeit this right unless they intend to return within eighteen months. Asking an emigrant if they will ever come home is a loaded question, and an emotional one too. Many of us cannot answer.

Americans don't need to worry about any of this. No matter how long they live abroad, whether or not they plan to return, whether they've voted before, or maintain a residence here or not, Americans can vote. Perhaps that very significance--the huge weight given to the right to vote--explains why the worst among us want to snatch it away.

The widespread practice in the United States of limiting and in some cases banning the voting rights of people who have committed felonies is out of step with most of the rest of the world. The gerrymandering and other discriminatory ways of repressing votes in this country, particularly the votes of black and brown people, is all the more extraordinary when you consider that some people who have never even lived in the country can vote. You read correctly: Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia allow the children of former residents, people who have never even resided in the United States, to vote there.

Trump, who's alleged widespread fraud by "those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal," as well as by dead people, whipped up a commision to investigate. It...

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