It is a big election year.
Huge really … regardless of your party affiliation or lack of. It seems more and more people know how much their vote counts.
I have been hounded for weeks to go register. I used to feel very much like my vote was a waste of time. I wanted to avoid the political calls and mailers, the intrusive nature of politics in my personal life. I’m very busy and not very political.
The pressure was coming from everywhere I turned, even from my own spouse. She felt so very strongly about the future of the country that she insisted I register and vote early.
I dug my heels in.
I didn’t want to participate.
I didn’t want to be bothered to fill out paperwork or explain why I hadn’t already registered. I didn’t want to stand in line. I didn’t want to be around politically charged crowds, small or large, pushing their agendas. I didn’t want to participate in the system which forces voters to check a box next to a bad choice. The one which is above the worst choice, and therefore the only choice.
I thought about it for quite awhile. The thing about being a woman is that it wasn’t so very long ago we didn’t have the right to decide who was the least worst choice. We didn’t get a say in who we as Americans were represented by for better or worse.
This fact is what pushed me to go ahead and vote. It pushed me even more than the fact this is an election year where the possibility of horrible, unfathomable things happening if one party is elected over the other is possible.
More than the not so gentle nudge of my darling wife to cast a vote in hopes to up the chances of our state being a little less conservative.
More than the appeal of walking about with an “I just voted sticker” ….
Seriously. Did you know that sticker gets you free stuff on election day?
So I went. I took my lunch break on the next to last day to vote early and headed to the local board of elections office. There were cars everywhere. People everywhere. A line so long it looked like it was going no where.
I second guessed my ambitious plan but jumped in line anyway.
It took about 3 minutes of 40 standing in the warm afternoon sunshine to realize not only was early voting brave but so was wearing a long sleeve cardigan to work. I was burning up standing in line, sweating and turning red taking baby steps ever closer to the entrance.
The sweet white haired lady behind me noticed the tattoo on my foot (Roman numerals) and asked if it were my birthday. I am pretty sure she was poking fun but I explained that no, it was my wedding date and was meant to be symbolic of a fresh step forward in life. She seemed unmoved by my story and said not another word to me for the rest of our time in line. I was fine with it.
The people pushing for their candidates however were less quiet and far more annoying. They were loud and shoving papers at me one after the other. Rattling names off as quickly as possible as if it meant I might just recognize them and place a checkmark next to their names in voting booth. For the record I didn’t.
I did however need to register and it took some time. They had to double check I wasn’t registered and hadn’t voted. Check. Check.
Then it was time to fill out the paperwork. Name, address, party affiliation, first born child name, spouses shoe size, favorite pizza topping. It seemed intrusive but I filled it out and waited in another line to hand it in.
A couple signatures and side eyed stares later I am in the actual line to actually vote. I started to feel excited to be part of this historical process and a little excited it would be over soon.
As I patiently waited my turn I looked around at the voters at each station; older folks, young people and citizens with name tags still attached. I felt relieved others were obviously there on their lunch break too.
There were moms with toddlers running around, knocking each other and directional signs down.
There were volunteers everywhere too explaining the process and keep voters moving in the right direction entering and exiting booths. They seemed frazzled but in control, totally unlike the toddler terror mothers at the voting station.
It was quiet chaos considering the long lines, the shuffling and the voices outside shouting names almost hysterically.
Each person there had a diverse background but was ultimately there for the same purpose. Each of us wanted our preference to be represented in the major changes coming up. Every person was there to participate, willingly and deliberately despite the obvious lines and time required to do so.
The actual process of casting my vote was easy. I knew who I wanted and double checked my choices before submitting my final ballot.
I walked away feeling accomplished. I had forgotten about those lines, the annoyances of unleashed toddlers and the unrelenting sunshine causing my body temperature to rise to just about melted lava range. I forgot about the older lady who was unimpressed I put a date into my skin permanently. I even forgot that I had put shoved all those unwanted political memos into my purse.
The last thing to do was grab my sticker and exit the building. I did so with pride.
It was awful but I did it and my vote will count. Voting early was a major pain in the ass but if I had to I would do it again.
* that sticker is getting me a free pint glass!