Voting: Exciting, Right?


“Hear ye, hear ye!  The polls in Hart County are officially open!”


            7:01 a.m., November 6, 2012, a sheriff’s deputy opened the polls and waved the line of voters into the voting room.  Finally – the moment I’d been waiting for – Election Day!


            We – Sparky, Meredith, and I – arrived at our polling place (the Hart County Recreation Department) at 6:40 in full dark.  A local church group was setting up coffee and donuts under a pavilion.  There were a few cars in the parking lot.  Two women wearing reflective vests were setting orange cones near the driveway.  A cold rain was falling, and a cold wind was blowing.  I was prepared to wait outside – carrying umbrella, mittens, scarf – and hoping for a long line, a long wait, some controversy, maybe a little chanting – something exciting to mark this historic election.


            But, luckily, though somewhat anticlimactically, we joined the short line inside.  We were 6th or 7th in line.  One at a time, others pushed in, and soon the line was folding back on itself.  I heard one woman say, “What are we doing here so early on a cold, rainy morning?”  I answered, mostly under my breath, “We’re here to control our destiny.”  


            I said, a little more loudly, “Sparky, how cool would it be to be the first one in line?!”  He just rolled his eyes.  We waited.  I fought the impulse to do little jumps and clap my hands with excitement.


            I said, “This is exciting, right?” 


            The deputy’s announcement brought tears to my eyes.


            I’ve been excited about Election Day since last week.  Actually, I’ve been excited about Election Day all my life.  I voted for Jimmy Carter in my first presidential election – I was 20 years old – and I’ve voted in every presidential election, and most of the local ones, since then. 


             My parents didn’t take my sisters and me to vote on Election Day as I was growing up, but in our town of Trumansburg, fondly called Tremendousburg by its citizens, I watched my parents help found a third party, and I watched volunteer firefighters, school bus drivers, teachers, doctors, professors, construction workers, housewives, and others gather at the firehouse to make calls to potential voters and to give rides to people who didn’t have a way to get to the polls. 


            Because we’re Americans, and we vote.  I became a Voter.


            Exciting, right?


Sparky and I made sure our daughters would grow up to become Voters.  We didn’t make it to any Election Day Pancake Breakfasts, but we usually took them to the Methodist Church for the Election Day Spaghetti Supper that the Boy Scouts served.


            We always took them with us to vote – not just to the polling place, but right into the voting booth.  We helped them pull the lever to close the curtain, read the ballot to them, and lifted them up so they could push the levers.  Even in the limbo of too old to be in the booth but too young to vote, they went with us.  The poll workers made sure each girl had an “I Voted” sticker, and they wore them with pride.


            My daughters are grown now.  Elaine takes her own children into the voting booth with her.  Anna votes.  Sparky and I dragged Meredith with us this morning after her 12-hour factory shift, and she voted.


The curtains and levers at the polling place are gone; we vote electronically now, but I’m just as emotional touching the screen and watching big green Xs appear next to my choices as I was hearing the click of the levers as my daughters cast my votes.


            This morning I stood by myself in front of my voting machine, my finger hovering over the CAST VOTE button, and tears came to my eyes again.  Voting for president is a big deal, an awesome responsibility.  I hit the button, and it was done.  Sparky, Meredith, and I met at the exit to go have Election Day Breakfast. 


            I said, “So, Mer, how was it?  Exciting, right?”


            She said, “Dad, can I have your sticker?  I can’t find mine.”

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