Matinicus Island is one of the smallest municipalities in this country, and our not-quite-a-town may well be the easiest place to vote on the planet. I am absolutely serious. No, you still can’t vote here if you aren’t of age and registered; show up as a total stranger (here, that usually means new sternman) and you will be asked for some documentation. You will not, however, be told that you cannot register because we don’t like the format of your address. You will not be asked for a water bill, or a cable bill; even electricity bills out here don’t necessarily provide your physical address because there is no RFD mail delivery; we all use post office boxes. I mention that particular detail in support of certain Americans who, we read, have faced obstruction because of lack of street addresses in some areas within the boundaries of (if not the governance of) North Dakota. I cannot speak for the laws of North Dakota, but in our rural and barely developed areas, such baloney as that is no excuse for turning away a legitimate voter.

By the way, you can also chuck that old idea that somebody in your municipal office is busy counting how many days you, the part-timer, are physically present in your Maine town in order to determine your legal residency, with an eye toward refusing your ballot should you be proven a day short of some long-rumored minimum. No; that is not how it works.

If you take a look at the Maine.gov elections “residence fact sheet” web page, lots of methods for establishing residence address are suggested, including “a direct statement of your intention to reside at a particular place” and, after the list of common documents, “any other objective facts that tend to indicate your place of residence.”

For most of us in the State of Maine the act of voting isn’t that difficult. If voting because you think your ballot really matters doesn’t convince you, and just voting against that one item which raises your hackles isn’t incentive enough, vote because you can. Vote when it’s no trouble because, in a sense, not to vote when it’s easy sort of disrespects all those people for whom it’s hard. I’m not even talking about people overseas who live in war zones or under dictatorships, or are citizens of countries without decent infrastructure, or where gangs beat you up if they think you voted for the wrong candidate, or where the ballot boxes are quite plainly stuffed by the already-in-authority. I’m not talking about most of the world’s rural villagers, women, and ethnic or religious minorities in regions where bullying and violence are the acknowledged mechanism of political power. I’m not talking about the Old Days. I’m talking about voters right here in the good ol’ U. S. of A, right now. For some, it is much too hard.

In the nation’s large cities, voters may stand in line for hours in the weather, sometimes only to be told that they have made the mistake of showing up at the wrong site and, yes, surprising as this is to those of us from small towns, it matters. There are reports of citizens having their absentee ballots rejected for reasons that don’t pass the straight-face test. We hear news stories, offensive to me as a registrar of voters, about voters dumped, purged, and disappeared from registry lists without sufficient reason. Let’s be clear; there are a few names still on the Matinicus Isle Plantation voter list of people I happen to know have moved away — lock, stock and oilskins — yet I cannot just quickly remove them. That is not how it works. Removing a voter’s name involves a slow process with some built-in complexity, intended to protect each individual’s right to vote.

Yet we read news stories about how authorities in some states seem ready and willing to disallow individuals and portions of the demographic, people who had already once been legitimately registered. Whether this is well-intentioned incompetence, an unprofessional degree of partisanship, the result of mean-spirited rumormongering, or outright racism is not for me to say, but as a town clerk, it angers me.

I have been told nothing, as an election official, that convinces me that there is such massive voter fraud as some suggest. Our secretary of state says he doesn’t see it. I believe Matt Dunlap, and with a soft spot for old-fashioned print journalism I believe The Washington Post and The New York Times, and they don’t see it either. I do not believe that we have much to fear from imaginary enemies of democracy, such as little old ladies from inner cities, or people in North Dakota who don’t happen to live on a street.

Go vote.