Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day

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."


Oma Froehle said...

Great post! Congratulations! You get it. We are women. We rock. America is STILL beautiful.

P.S. Your kids are adorable.

Pam said...

Great post! I feel envious that I couldn't vote today because as you say, it's great to be part of the election proccess. It was nice to read all about your experiences.

Giselle said...

What a cool post. They had no stickers at my voting place. Bummer...I wanted the world to know it!

Andrew is going with Jeff today to cast his vote (they want the same presidential candidate). He is EXCITED. I am happy and proud that he comes from a family that is split between the parties, because we are teaching him that even if we have different ideas of what will work for this country, we still respect each other. And the thing I love about the US, is even if you are really upset at the outcome tomorrow, there will be no rioting or fear on the streets. We will accept the elected official.

Hillary or Ryan said...

You make me cry (in a good way)! I love this post! :)


Anonymous said...

I couldn't have dreamed up a better post in response to my request to hear about your voting experience. Thanks for sharing it!
love, Tracy

Swistle said...

Ha! She is such a funny little cutie!

Emily said...

That story is priceless. This country is awesome.

Re: your comment on my video post - I definitely don't think you should worry about Michael - they usually say preemies won't be completely caught up until they're 2 years old. And a May baby would be a more appropriate comparison. Not only was he born early, but then he has to work harder to get all their systems working properly, so it just takes them a while to catch up. He looks great!

Heidi said...

Very well said. And I hope you win too. *grin*

CARRIE said...

I'm glad you didn't have a long wait. Will you be my personal day planner, though, because I can't get myself together as well as you did.

bluedaisy said...

Harper's comment is so precious! We took our kids with us too- what a great idea to take pictures! I have our ballot stubs and since we each held a child while we voted, I am saving the stubs as a little memento for them-I completely agree with your sentiments on the importance of voting and hope to pass that on to my kids too!