I guess I’ll just stay home on election day. You see, I’m afraid to vote. Once, someone gave me a nasty look at the Village Hall, and now I’m simply too emotionally scarred to cross the door threshold.
OK, I made that up. However, the Janesville City Council would apparently believe me and possibly move the polling place to be sure I could vote without being intimidated by an irrational fear. I make that assumption based on the fact that the council is now spending time and effort to search for an alternative to having a couple of wards temporarily (April and August elections) vote at the police station.
Never mind that the only reason for the change is construction at City Hall, and the temporary move to the police department just across the street from the usual polling place would be convenient. Some folks have already seized the opportunity for political gain and would have you believe otherwise. But there is no darker motive. This is not, as congressional candidate Cathy Myers would have you believe, another attempt at voter suppression. This is a simple shift of a voting machine from one public building to another—nothing more.
In listening to the public comments and watching the actions of council members, one might believe a huge and frightening rift exists between our citizens and police department when nothing could be further from the truth.
The efforts of the Janesville Police Department through special training, formation of special committees (such as the African American Liaison Advisory Committee) and a community approach to policing have been nearly heroic. Yet certain residents and council members who openly wear their social causes on their sleeves have unwittingly given a left-handed slap in the face to our men and women in uniform.
They do so even as they profess to uphold the sensitivity of other voters (how many exactly, by the way?) who would rather give up their right to vote than enter the building housing a police department. Enough is enough. I’ve grown weary of the rhetoric. “If even one voter is disenfranchised…,” they say. Well, here we are, majoring in the minors again.
Why are these concerned defenders of democracy not worried about the 80-some-percent of the electorate who will not turn out to vote? Why are they not seeking better locations to make sure those folks do come out and vote? I will tell you why: Because the location of the polling place makes very little difference unless you are trying to score political points.
People go to the polls or stay home for myriad reasons, but I have never heard one person tell me they didn’t vote because they were afraid of the polling location. And in the dust storm of social correctness and sensitivity, the most unfortunate part of this latest short-sighted attempt to cater to an oversensitive minority is that the city council’s actions may speak louder than words to our police department.
Is the message: “The police department is open to you for your needs, including a place to make your voice heard on Election Day,” or is it “The police department is a scary place—too scary to invite citizens there to vote”?
According to five city council members, sadly, it appears to be the latter.