Last week, Alex marked another milestone by participating in his first political election. Although he was old enough to vote in the Indiana state primary election in May, I had not assembled his paperwork in time for him to vote then. In Indiana, voters are required to provide official photo identification documents before voting to prevent voter fraud. Since Alex doesn’t have a driver’s license, we needed to get him an official state identification card instead. As I described in my earlier blog entry “Transitions,” this experience at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles in June went much more smoothly than we would have anticipated, primarily because the woman who worked with Alex was amazingly patient and understanding and because Alex was remarkably cooperative. In addition, I had spent time online beforehand, making sure we had all the required paperwork to prove that Alex was neither a terrorist nor an identity thief: birth certificate and Social Security card to verify his identity, along with a doctor’s bill and a bank statement reporting the value of his stocks to confirm his address. The only difficulty in getting the official state identification card was keeping him from smiling and showing his teeth—as required by law—in the photograph they took. Consequently, his photograph, like most people’s driver’s license pictures, is not terribly flattering. In fact, he looks somewhat like a thug. Nonetheless, he now has the identification needed to vote, and we also had him register to vote while we were at the BMV.
After receiving Alex’s voter registration card in the mail, we then needed to apply for an absentee ballot. Again, information available online made this task much simpler. Ed and I were uncertain how Alex would deal with voting in our regular polling place and decided that he would handle voting at home much better because he could take his time making his choices and not be distracted by other people and strange surroundings. Since disability is one of the valid reasons for requesting an absentee ballot, he used this option. After submitting the form to request an absentee ballot, a few weeks later he received his official ballot along with instructions and the envelope to mail it. Unlike many people who take voting for granted or simply choose not to participate in elections, Alex was excited about this opportunity to exercise his right as an adult and carefully considered his choices before submitting his ballot. In addition, Alex follows the news, and through his study of American history, he has a good grasp of the political process. Even though he doesn’t pay taxes other than sales tax, he strongly supports candidates who share his belief in the need for lower taxes. Because he values money and is a good shopper who looks for the best deal, his concern for saving money is really not surprising. In addition, Alex spends a great deal of time listening to conversations that Ed and I have about politics and likely has formed opinions based upon what he’s heard us discussing that influenced his decisions. With great seriousness of purpose, Alex made his choices, mailed his ballot, and became part of the American electorate.
Eagerly anticipating Election Day last week, Alex spent the entire evening watching the election results on the news stations and waited to see how his candidates ranked. As though he were viewing an exciting sports event, he had a contented grin and would occasionally stand up and clap while he watched the results. Because most of his candidates—local, state, and national—fared well, he felt proud to have supported these successful candidates. Just as Alex felt pride in casting his ballot, we felt pride that he took his responsibility seriously and was actively engaged in the election process. Moreover, we felt grateful that despite autism’s attempts to silence Alex, he was able to make his voice heard through his vote.
“Now He is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come.” Ephesians 1:21