My friend Tracy asked to hear what my voting experience was like. I had braced myself for a possible long wait at our polling place. I packed a couple of snacks, a water bottle, a stack of books, and a card game for Harper, along with all the wipes, diapers, and burp clothes that Michael might need. I stretched Michael's morning schedule to feed him as late as possible before heading to pick up Harper. The plan was to pick her up from school and go immediately to vote. I made Harper go to the bathroom when I picked her up from school. Matt waited close to 45 minutes to vote before heading to work this morning. I figured, if need be, we could manage up to a two hour wait. The gorgeous weather didn't hurt either. We could survive a line that snaked out the door. Our polling place is less than a mile from our house, if the parking lot was full I figured I'd just drive home, load up the stroller, and we'd walk there.
It was almost, almost, disappointing when we pulled into a nearly empty parking lot and I realized there wasn't going to be an epic wait before I'd be able to vote. Then I remembered I had two small children with me and sent up a quick prayer of thanks for our luck!
A woman approached me in the parking lot with some information about two of the ballot issues and several of the local candidates. She asked if I needed the information and my first response was, "Am I allowed to take it in there?" Really I should have just said no thank you, because I already knew how I was planning to vote. But all the coverage about possible election problems had made me really paranoid about doing something to jeapordize my vote. I don't know what the rules are, but I was kind of surprized that woman was allowed to be in the parking lot, handing out those materials.
Once we entered the building I saw that there was no wait whatsoever! I signed the book, got my card for the voting machine, and took the kids over to the next available touch screen. I had to wait all of about 37 seconds for one to become available. Michael was content in his stroller, but Harper wanted to be lifted up so she could see what I was doing. I propped her up on my left hip as I made my choices. I explained to Harper that I had to touch the boxes to show how I wanted to vote. Then I explained the computer was showing me the choices I'd made. Finally I pointed out the place where the paper representation of my vote was going into the machine. I said, "When the voting time is over people will count all the votes, including mine, and we'll find out who won."
Harper looked over with this huge grin on her face, hugged me, and said, "I hope you win Mommy."
There was literally a collective, "Awwww!" from the other people in the room. It was hilarious, and very sweet.
I got a little choked up as I voted today. No matter which side you're on, no matter who wins this election, something historic is about to happen. I know that we live in a country which is far from perfect, but less than 100 years ago I wouldn't have been allowed to vote. I am woman, who stays at home with her children because that is the choice we have made, not because there aren't other choices for me. I am a woman who walked into her polling place without feeling any kind of pressure or fear. I cast what I feel was an extremely important vote and I have every confidence that it will count. I used my vote to shape what will happen in my local community and in our country. I felt empowered.
We took some pictures outside afterward (Harper refused to open her eyes because the sun was so bright), because I want both of my children to know they went to the polls during the first presidential election of their lives. I want them to know that voting is important to their father and I. I want them to know that they will be expected to exercise their right to vote. By the time they are 18 I want them to be excited to cast their very own votes in local, state, and national elections. I hope they vote because they are proud to have the right to do so.
After casting my vote, Harper collected voting stickers for the three of us. They said, "I made a difference, so can you. Vote."