We’re so spoiled. Anyone who grew up a U.S. citizen and is reading this has always had the right to vote under the rules of our democratic process. No dictators ruling with an iron fist, no military coups forcing regime change. We get to have our say. But so many of us don’t choose to exercise this wonderful privilege. But I guess not voting is also making a choice, and I have to accept that.My oldest son (26) is keen on the voting process. He carefully reviews what the candidates are saying, and makes a thoughtful choice. He prints out the ballot from the county web site ahead of time so he is prepared when he enters the booth. This is serious business for him.
My youngest son (3) had his first experience at the polls on this Super Tuesday. Of course he has yet to declare a party affiliation, for today he was only observing the process, and quite a smooth process it was. There are a variety of ballots and machines available for casting votes in this country. For many years I used the punch card process. Some areas of the country employ a touch screen. Standardization would be a good goal for the country some day. In my precinct, we use a very low tech paper and pen method. Although it was not fancy, it was quite orderly and very easy.We entered the polling place at about 8:30 am to find there was no line. Simply gave the official my name and address, signed for a ballot, and went behind a cardboard booth to vote. Every aspect of the process was clear and well signed. Granted the signs could use a little updating, but hey, this is not about the presentation, it’s about the content. Once again my iPhone camera comes in handy.
I took the black felt tip pen and filled in the oval next to the candidate’s name as instructed. Like my son I had taken a sneak peek at the ballot, so I knew what to expect. Once my selections were made I inserted the completed ballot into the privacy sleeve and fed it into the ballot counting machine that looks like a giant industrial paper shredder. My civic duty had been neatly dispatched.
Although it was over in short order–no more than 10 minutes from beginning to end–the elapsed time had no bearing how I felt. When alone with the ballot, I play out numerous scenarios in my mind. What if this person was in office and this happened? How would they react? Has the country really matured enough to elect a woman or an African American to the nation’s highest office? It’s a satisfying feeling to be sure. But not one of power or entitlement. Instead I feel a heightened sense of responsibility. The process has weight and importance and heritage.I am very proud my oldest son is actively participating, and committed to ensuring my youngest one will be exposed to the process every time the opportunity arises. No it’s not s perfect system, but name one that is. Nothing is sadder than sitting on the sideline outside of the deal flow when you could be right in the middle of it. If you voted, congratulations, and thank you. If you didn’t, it’s never too late. The big one comes in November.