As I drove towards the polling location this morning, I was thrilled to wait in a long line of cars to turn in to the parking lot.
Up and down the packed rows of cars I went, looking for an open parking space. Unlike the usual me, I felt no aggravation or need to complain under my breath.
The clouds and misty drizzle didn’t dampen my spirits as I parked. And walked by crowds of supporters holding campaign signs. Peacefully. Democrats on one side of the walkway. Republicans on the other side.
I was smiling as I waited in line behind other voters once I got inside the building…the town’s former high school. Tables side by side divided up voters via the alphabet — first letters of last names.
There were men, women, children, babies – all patiently waiting. Rows of red, white and blue curtained voting booths also waiting throughout the old gymnasium. I made it to the check-in person, showed my driver’s license and received my ballot – yes, here we have paper ballots as long as your arm. A black sharpie also waited inside each booth. To fill in the empty circles beside all the hopeful candidates’ names.
I am always filled with a sense of awe at this moment. At the privilege – and the right – of having my voice actually count. It is only one voice, but it is as important as that guy in front of me in line. And as important as the young mom holding the curly headed baby in the line to my left. The perfect equalizer. That not everyone in this world has.
Just before I turned 18, the voting age was changed from 21 to 18, courtesy of the 26th Amendment to the United States Constitution (which followed the crucial 19th Amendment 51 years earlier…also making my vote possible). When I actually turned 18, I registered to vote at my high school. We had passionately discussed the significance of this change in History class and amongst ourselves. After all, there were 18, 19 & 20 year olds headed to Vietnam who should at least be able to vote.
I haven’t missed an election since.
When my two children turned 18, I took them soon after to our city hall to register. My son registered on his actual birthday – the next day was election day. And we both went together. “Did you get your absentee ballot?” I’d ask each of them every year when they were in college. We are lucky in this country, I tell them. We have a voice.