I love to vote. The same dorky side of me that loves office supplies and used to look forward to the first day of school absolutely loves exercising her civic duty. I love everything about the experience, from filling out that little card at the beginning of the line to filling in all the bubbles on the ballot (just like an SAT test) to going over to the machine and feeding my ballot in, saying that one last prayer to the election gods ensuring that my vote will actually count. (I’m a worrier.)
I’m not much of a flag waver. I don’t have bumper stickers on my car or own a flag pin of any sort. But election day gets my patriotic juices flowing a lot more than even the Fourth of July. I think it’s because voting reminds me that our government is participatory, that we all get a chance to have our voices heard. And that’s a pretty extraordinary thing.
I also like the poll workers. I’ve done that job a few times and served as an election monitor, too, and it’s really a pretty grueling and thankless job. It’s stressful because you don’t want to make a mistake and see your polling station on the evening news that night. It’s also extremely tiring. It was hard for me when I was college age. I have no idea how these folks in their 70s and 80s hang in there for 10 to 12 hour days, getting up before sunrise and working tirelessly to help us all cast our votes. They certainly deserve our thanks – even the cranky ones.
I also like to vote because it’s about community. Today, driving back to work from my polling place, I saw couples walking hand in hand toward, moms pushing baby carriages, a guy with his dog – everyone headed out to vote. These days, we mostly just drive past each other or wave a quick hello to the neighbor as we walk into the house, but election day is the one day when everyone gathers in one place for a common purpose. It’s just nice to know that everybody’s still out there and that we’re all citizens of the same country. Even if I vehemently disagree with someone’s politics and may cast the occasional look of disdain at their choice of lawn sign, that all seems to disappear for me on election day. It’s like shaking hands at the end of the Stanely Cup finals – the players may have just beaten the hell out of each other, but they’re still going to acknowledge a game well played.
Plus, free stickers! Who doesn't love the idea that millions of grown adults get rewarded with free stickers? It's like being in kindergarten only instead of voting on what to name the new class gerbil, we're picking a guy to be the leader of the free world. Absurdly awesome.
Happy voting, everyone!