Today is Election Day and I woke up giddy about it. This is a far cry from my early adulthood when voting terrified me- the process, the pressure to get it right, the chances to mess up. I remember going into a voting booth with my mom when I was a kid. She voted at our town library, my first library. It was the home to storyhours, rows of seemingly (to my little kid eye) endless books, fundraising spaghetti suppers and the town offices that I only knew as the place where we got dog tags. It was, and is, at the center of the small Connecticut town where I spent my childhood. It was also the only polling place.
I remember the darkness of the velvet curtain that Mom closed around us, the complex levers of the voting machine- how did she know what to do? Who to vote for? It scared me years later when I had earned the right to vote.
Now I know I shouldn’t have been scared- voting is fun. I’ve lived in many towns and each one had different voting methods and you know what? I easily figured them all out. I learned over the years that it’s okay and perfectly normal to not know all the judges or elected county officials. It’s nice and makes you an educated voter, but if you simply vote for the party you feel most connected to it’s normal. Hell, even voting only by gender for the ones you don’t know is probably normal. I hope.
In the small Missouri town where I now live our polling place is also the library. It’s my kids’ home for storytimes, seemingly endless (to their eyes) rows of books, a bank of computers and some quiet rooms to study.
The kids are now in school, my oldest old enough to vote for herself and make her own voting traditions, but when they were home with me I used to make a morning of it. We would talk about the process and what the different jobs were. I would have them help me fill out my ballot and we would go for hot chocolate afterwards. Now I have new traditions- I get a cup of coffee, say hi to the people braving the chill or rain to support their candidate, sniff deeply the scent of my present library (as is my lifelong habit which I couldn’t stop if I wanted to), wait my turn, sign the register and vote.
And then I get my sticker as a souvenir of the adventure.
There are many places (including The History Chicks) where you can learn about the battles, struggles and balls of suffragists who made this privilege possible for women. I won’t even begin to talk about that here, but those women alone shouldn’t be why you vote.I won’t even nag on you with, “it’s your responsibility as a citizen to cast your vote”, or, “it’s your civic duty”. You know all that.
You should vote because it’s freaking fun.
And don’t forget your souvenir.
Here is a link to Find Your Fucking Polling Place where you plug in your address and get not only the spot, but the ballot so you go in knowing what you are going to vote for.
Also, just saw this! Being afraid to vote at first is also a very normal thing! John Green’s post about it!