Voting is kind of a big deal to me.
Don’t get me wrong…I hate the politics, the mud slinging, and the animosity. The ads, the flyers in the mail, and all that other garbage isn’t my thing. Still, I get a little choked up when we stand in line and wait our turn to cast our ballots. My parents taught me it was a big deal. I’m not perfect in voting in runoffs and other local things, but I do show up for many voting opportunities.
This time around, we’ve already been inundated with media about long lines and voting issues. I opened the “wait times” webpage for my county on the first day of early voting. The first day had the lines at 7 hours at one polling place! My husband got it in on the third or fourth day. When I saw “15 minutes” one Friday after work, I pointed my car in that direction.
It was a beautiful fall afternoon. A bit of chill and breeze in the air. People waited in a long line that stretched around the fairgrounds. Everyone had masks on. People gave each other space. The man in front of me had scrubs on and had his wife and small kids in tow. People brought lawn chairs just in case. It was peaceful. The line moved along. People of different races, different backgrounds, different experiences and belief systems. We all just waited our turn.
Clipboard man came out with armloads of 10 at a time. Instructions were shouted. People followed along. No drama, no fisticuffs. A sharp contrast from the mutiny and anger we see in the news. I will say there were several armed officers standing by. Hopefully they were not the cause for the calm. An insurance policy I’d hope we would never need.
I waited maybe 30 minutes. We moved through the stations quickly. The poll workers were as diverse as the line waiting. All ages, genders, races. People I wouldn’t envision sitting together at a restaurant table or bar working in concert, communicating, even laughing. Filling a role to keep this democracy thing going.
I got my card and my “voting stylus” – a new pandemic souvenir. I voted. I scanned my ballot, which I don’t remember doing before. I took my sticker. Almost 10,000 votes had already been cast at that one voting place in day 5 of early voting.
I guess I’m just nostalgic, but my chest swells when I think that I get a voice in making these decisions, and my voice is just as important as any other. There are always problems. Voter suppression. Intimidation. I’m not naive enough to think there aren’t people actively trying to undermine something so important, powerful, and influential. But for the moment, I am celebrating the fact that I get to play a role in the process.
If you can, VOTE! And tell the people that matter to you to do it, too.