Do you remember when you first voted?
I learned about my voting rights when my high school government teacher took the entire class through the voter registration form. Some, like me, wouldn’t turn 18 until we went away to college. Mrs. Palermo was so passionate about getting us involved in the process, that she saved our registration forms and mailed them for us so we would be eligible on election day. I’m incredibly grateful that I had a teacher who instilled in us how important it is to be a part of the public process.
At home, my parents never voted, which always disappointed me. My grandmother, an immigrant, was highly involved in the process. She volunteered for elections and even did GOTV canvassing. We had great debates about candidates and measures over the years. I learned that we both often voted women first, then mostly straight-ticket. Only we were opposite tickets, so we probably cancelled each other’s votes.
I had the pleasure of coming of voting age back when you still showed up in person and stood in an actual booth. Once inside, the curtain sprung shut and I was alone with my choices. The ballot was enormous and full of tiny levers. There was also a special straight-ticket lever, and if pulled, my ballot would go all Democrat or all Republican in a snap. That never seemed quite right to me. I remember agonizing over ballot measures and judges, hoping I was making the right choices. There was no internet back then to research candidates. Once I set all the small levers, I then pulled another big lever to officially cast my votes. The machine made a loud KA-CHUNK as it accepted my votes, reset the levers, and sprung open the curtain. NEXT!
While I understand the reasoning behind vote by mail and using computers, I kind of miss those days. Maybe not the lines. Definitely not the hanging, dimpled or pregnant chads. Even though I could get it out of the way as soon as my ballot arrives, I wait until Election Day. You never know what could happen! Candidates implode, new truths emerge, someone sways my opinion…
Well, today is the day. I’ve read a bunch of voter’s guides, including Cascade’s, and I’ve made my choices from the privacy of my dining room. Now I’m going to save a stamp and walk over to one of King County’s ballot drop boxes (which you can do until 8 p.m.) and cast my vote. No lines, no curtain, no KA-CHUNK, but most certainly a vital part of the public process.