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I remember the first time I voted.

I was 18, it was my first year at college, and I requested an absentee ballot. When that ballot showed up curled into my tiny mailbox, I ran it back to my dorm room before heading off to class because I feared it would get dirty or stolen or ignited if I didn't. Because, you know, that could happen.

I set aside some time after dinner, when I knew my roommate would be gone, so that I could give my full attention to the most important ritual of democracy. I locked the door, turned off my radio, read the instructions carefully. I lined up my ballot on the foam pad provided and used the regulation metal stylus to register my support for Michael Dukakis (go ahead, laugh) and all the various ballot initiatives. I think I checked my finished ballot about half a dozen times, just to make sure I didn't fuck anything up, before sealing it up and taking it immediately to the mailbox, again to avoid any soiling, theft or flame. And then I ran back to my room, invigorated and thrilled, my little heart soaring with pride that I was at last a voter, an irreplaceable cog in the machinery of freedom! My voice would now be heard!

Sure, I was a dork. Sure, this was back before creeping cynicism quashed my liberal-arts-undergrad utopian outlook. But I still feel like this when I vote. I look forward to Election Day for months. I still appreciate that by doing something so small, that takes just a moment, I am participating in a tradition so mythic and powerful that for centuries people around the world have given their lives just to try it.

I am ashamed that "great" voter turnout in this country means 50% of eligible voters bother to show up. I probably shouldn't take it personally, but I do. I wish I could spend every Election Day driving around in a giant bus making sure everybody gets to the polls, but I can't. Besides, you're all adults. You don't need me telling you what to do.

But you're going to vote tomorrow, right?

Replies: 2 Confessions

I guess so. If I don't have anything else to do.

jima @ 11/04/2002 03:28 PM CST

I'm still undecided on the Illinois Governor thing. It bugs me that Paul Simon is shilling for B'vitch. I was thinking of writing him in!

At least there's a real liberal (pacifist, intellectual, homosexual!) in the 10th district congressional race. Too bad he's gonna lose to Kirk (R), who two years ago was arguing with his Democratic challenger over who was more moderate, but after winning, (surprise!) mostly voted the party line and worked closely w/Bush on Iraq stuff (which some consider a good thing) (hey, I thought it was a good idea to jump off what I thought was a sinking ship after "Heroes are Hard to Find" -- oops!)

I did NOT see the orbs when I was taking the pictures.

Bob Welch @ 11/04/2002 10:08 PM CST

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