Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day still gives me goose bumps

IMG_2454One of my earliest memories is of Election Day, 1984.

I was a five-year-old future voter, and my Dad took me along to the polls when got home from work. My dad is a retired social studies teacher, so it’s no wonder he instilled in me a sense of civic duty early on by dragging me to polls on Election Day.

I remember my dad chatting with the election judges, most of whom were familiar faces after years of voting in the same place. I remember following him into the tiny little booth with the blue curtain. I remember back then the ballots were punch cards, and you slipped the yellow card into a box that held it in place, then you used these little metal punch things to punch the hole next to the candidate of your choosing. Early voting machineTo me the whole process seemed so important, even then.

Elections Day has always felt sacred to me, from those early days of watching my dad punch his ballot, to my first vote for president in 2000, to today.

So much hinges on this one day of the year. From the future of a local school to the future of our country, Election Day is the day we as citizens get to play a critical role in the outcome.

My hope is that voters still feel at least some sense of civic pride on Election Day, even after all the millions of dollars spent on TV attack ads, all the thousands of campaign fliers which filled up our mailboxes, and the dozens (or more) phone calls from campaigns, pollsters and activists.

Our politics are far from perfect and there are plenty of reasons for people across the political spectrum to complain these days. No matter what the outcome, a large portion of our state and our country are not going to be pleased with the result. We are a polarized electorate, perhaps more so than at any other time in our recent history. But my hope is that when the dust settles tomorrow, we can move forward as community, a state and a country with the goal of trying to do more to understand the other side. My hope is that regardless of who our president, or governor, or senator or next county commissioner is on Jan. 1, that we as a citizenry will vow to work harder to be more civil, to focus more on solving problems that affect us all, and to care more deeply for each other. Because regardless of who our elected officials are, at the end of the day we’re all still in this together.

I voted

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