The husband and I headed out to the early voting site this morning. I had the ever present coffee travel mug in hand, filled to the brim. My husband was predicting a very low attendance as we pulled into the parking lot. The site had been a local Lions Club at one time and is now owned by the county.
In addition to the usual group of volunteers and candidates stumping out front, there was a short line of people outside the door. We walked up and got into place, saying “good morning” to the couple in front of us. My husband began to feign indifference, knowing I was going to jump into a conversation with them. She then turned and said, “This is my first time voting, ever.” I said “Congratulations! It’s an exciting day for you.” She then flashed us the biggest, brightest smile and her eyes lit up like sparklers. It was clear she was very excited about the occasion. And Mr. “I’m not interested” began listening; he doesn’t fool me. Another man overheard her remark and told a story of how his mother died at age 90 without ever having voted.
This is not a large place and it didn’t take long to get inside the doors. We slowly edged our way to the entryway of the large room where we would check in and get our ballots. On the left door was the sample ballot. The woman’s husband began to explain how the ballot was organized, showing her where the presidential candidates were listed, then moving down to the next area where she could indicate a straight ticket vote. She turned back to me with another excited smile and I laughed as I told her it was like taking a test when were children in school. You had to color in the circles to indicate your choices. (Remember, we are talking small town, still somewhat rural – no electronic ballot machines here!)
We then moved into the voting area. She went to a separate line to register while her husband and most of the rest of us just checked in. They got their ballots and went to two adjacent booths as my husband and I did the same. I so wanted to watch her vote. I know her husband was helping her get everything completed. We finished about the same time and after they put their ballots in the machine, she picked up her “I Voted” sticker and had it on before they got through the doorway.
It has been a very long time since I have seen anyone that excited to be at the polls. It reminded me of the little children who run down the aisle at church when it’s time for the children’s message – they don’t want to be left out. We should all be that excited to exercise our right and our privilege to vote.