Monday, November 3, 2008

That Voting Feeling

In NYC, the only place I’ve ever voted in person, you step behind a curtain, slide a lever, flip the switches next to your chosen candidates, then slide the lever back so your vote is counted. It is very tangible, the clunking sound of the lever locking into place and taking official note of your opinions at that moment. I always feel a little choked up as I step out of the booth and scurry home.

I don’t know exactly where that feeling comes from. People try to tell me that it’s pride – pride in the country, the system, the privilege of having my vote counted. But I’ve never really thought that was it. Frankly, I don’t always feel that much pride in our government, or even in most of our elected officials. It must be something else.

Maybe it’s just a release of tension after months of looking at candidates and hearing about issues and polls. Or maybe it’s a new and frenzied kind of stress that comes from knowing I have done everything I can and now it is time to wait in front of the TV to learn whether or not the country has come to its senses. Perhaps it is even a little twinge of hope—hope that the system can work and we can have change.

Yes, I’d like to think it is hope that I feel. I do know I am fortunate to live in a place and time where I can reasonably trust that my vote will be counted. I know that I will not be subjected to pain, fear, violence or intimidation as I approach my polling place, as happens in so many places around the world. As has happened at times in this nation’s history.

No one should stand in the voting booth and feel afraid. No one should have to look over her shoulder when she slips her card into the ballot box. Those reasons alone are enough to urge me to stand up. To say I am here, to make sure my voice and my vote count. It is why I will be standing in line tomorrow morning, looking for that voting feeling.

Go out and get yours! Maybe I’ll see you there.

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