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Love the Vote

42 comments | November 6th, 2012

(by Mir)

I’m not going to lie; I was struggling with a post topic for today. I’m tired, it’s been a hard few days, my screwed-back-together broken hand is hurting, and I’m suffering from a Halloween candy hangover. This is not the ideal combination for deep thought. So, being the professional that I am, last night I turned to my husband and whined, “What should I write about?” (No, he doesn’t receive combat pay for living with me. But he probably should.)

“Write about the election,” he suggested. I gave him A Look. You know the one—it suggests that I would rather chew off my own leg than discuss politics. He shook his head slightly. “Not the election itself. Write about voting. Write about the first time you voted!”

And I said no. Because… I can’t remember the first time I voted. We worked through the history to figure out that the first presidential election where I would’ve been of legal voting age was 1992. Then we determined that I would’ve still been in college, so if I’d voted in that election, I would’ve either had to get an absentee ballot or traveled back to my hometown on election day to cast my vote. I can’t remember doing either; I think there’s a decent chance that I didn’t vote at all.

I’m reluctant to admit this. I’m ashamed of it, frankly. There’s a possibility that I did vote in that election in 1992 and just can’t remember how I managed it, yes. I don’t remember, but it’s possible. But it’s also true that there have been other elections in which I most definitely didn’t vote at all. It wasn’t until my 30s that I bothered to vote in local elections.

Now, I can tell you why I didn’t vote, but it’s a terrible excuse. As a young woman, I despised everything about politics, and so I avoided most of it as best I could. Then—knowing I was often fuzzy on the issues and candidates—I assumed I should abstain from voting because I didn’t have the necessary information to make informed choices. Now that I’m older, I still despise politics, but I understand that I still have a responsibility to participate in the democratic process (and, furthermore, that if you don’t vote, you don’t get to complain).

Of course, now I believe that every American who CAN vote, SHOULD vote. But more than that, this particular election (how could it not?) has reminded me that my responsibility to exercise this particular civil right is perhaps more important because I am a woman in a still-patriarchal society. It is my fervent hope that by the time my daughter is old enough to vote, the notion of a political party backing candidates who think rape is imaginary will be unthinkable. To me, it feels like there has never been a more important election cycle for the women of this country.

Yesterday my son asked me if there was “just one thing” I could go back in time and change in my life, what would it be? At first I told him that I’m a firm believer in the past bringing us to the present, so probably I wouldn’t change anything. He pressed, so I said I would go back three weeks and not break my hand. (Hey, it’s true, and it made him laugh.) But later, I realized that was the wrong answer.

If I could go back in time and change one thing in my life, it would be that I would’ve believed from the age of 18 that it’s not just a right, but a privilege to participate in the democratic process. And then I would’ve voted in every single election (after researching the candidates and issues). I am mortified to think of all the times I could’ve voted but just didn’t.

Remember when everyone was writing letters to their younger selves, all full of “you go girl” messages about how that body you were afraid to put into a bikini was actually totally smokin’, and that dreamy boy was nothing but trouble? If I could write a letter to my younger self, I’d tell her to wear the bikini, and I’d tell her that part of loving and respecting herself as a person, as a woman, is voting in every election. It’s an act of patriotism, but it’s also an act of self-love. Getting educated, and then getting out to vote, is a confirmation that your voice matters.

Agree? Disagree? Please tell me you voted.

(Get More Mir Here)

 

42 comments

  • cindy

    Posted on November 6, 2012

    I turned 18 in October of 1992, just in time to register to vote for the first time. I was in college, but I registered in my college town (same state as I’d always lived in) so I could go cast my vote in person on Election Day. I was proud to cast my first vote for Bill Clinton and have been a staunch Democrat my whole adult life. This morning, I brought my daughters with me to vote before work/school. They were very excited about !Election Day! and getting stickers. I’m happy to vote, every chance I get!

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    • Bob

      Posted on November 6, 2012

      I’ve seen other parents bring their kids to the polling place, it is an excellent way to instigate that discussion about our civic rights and responsibilities. They’ll remember a special trip and it will inculcate in them their role in our system of government. I didn’t take our kids, I kinda wish I had. But – we’ve always discussed politics in our home and our kids registered to vote when they turned 18 and have voted ever since.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted on November 6, 2012

    I WISH I could vote in your election, but I’m Canadian. So I’ll just keep my fingers crossed that Obama wins and Romney doesn’t get the chance to screw up our country as well as yours.

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    • Annette

      Posted on November 8, 2012

      I am American, and disagree with your premise, just FYI:) Can’t find a single thing in this country that has improved in the last 4 years. At all. Not a SINGLE. FLIPPING. THING.

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      • Liz

        Posted on November 8, 2012

        I disagree with YOUR premise. My friends are allowed to get married in many states, their partners aren’t getting deported. My friend’s daughter, who has congenital liver disease and was about to lose coverage for going over her lifetime maximum at age 10, can’t lose her insurance coverage. My returning veteran friends have more funds for college. Over 5 million new jobs. Being a woman doesn’t mean higher insurance premiums.

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  • Cheryl

    Posted on November 6, 2012

    My great grandmother told all of us girls about her working as a “suffragette” and why she did it. She never thought of herself as controversial, and never identified as a suffragette, but thought it inconceivable that her drunk of a husband was more qualified to vote than she was simply because of his anatomy. She talked about people yelling at them as they passed her home and even spitting at them as they walked by. I vote because I feel it would be an insult to her and every other woman who marched with her to give me the right to vote. I’m not always completely thrilled with my choices of candidates (looking at you 2012) but I pick one and vote. And every single time I do I say “Thank you gramma” as I deposit the ballot in the box.

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  • Beth

    Posted on November 6, 2012

    I knew that today I was going to be crazy busy…and also remembered that last year when I tried to vote in my local elections, that the people who worked the polls would not let me bring my young boys with me. They said if they weren’t 18 they couldn’t be in the room–therefore, I knew I would be voting in the AM. And directly after work I have a meeting that will last until the polls are closed. So on Friday I went to our county office and voted early for the first time ever. I was sure they were going to tell me that I wasn’t allowed to vote early for some reason, but I refused to let this election go by without having my voice heard. We are having a big race for Superintendent of Public Education in our state, and I knew I wanted to vote in that race…and also, the presidential race even though I’m not happy with either party. It’s one of our rights to walk into a booth and vote. So I found a way.

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    • My Kids Mom

      Posted on November 6, 2012

      wow, I let my boys press the actual buttons on the voting machine. Is it really illegal? Seems like a way to keep moms from voting.

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      • Lori N

        Posted on November 7, 2012

        I’ve taken my kids with me to almost every election since they were born & I’ve never had anyone say anything but positive things.

        Beth — I’m glad you found a way to vote! (Now that the election hoopla is over you might want to look into the voting laws in your area and if the under 18 thing is true — different places have different rules.)

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    • Elizabeth

      Posted on November 7, 2012

      I’ve never heard of kids not being allowed in the polling room. That’s nuts! I have clear memories of going with my mother when I was little. And I’ve brought my kids with me every year since they turned 3 and they think it’s a big deal. Although the younger one was miffed this year because SHE wanted to vote. A friend of mine who lives in the city of Chicago said they had kids’ “ballots” at her polling place, with stuff where they could vote for historical Chicago figures (e.g. Social Activist, Jane Addams or Ida B Wells.) Her son was thrilled.

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  • Shirley @ gfe

    Posted on November 6, 2012

    I voted and proudly! I started voting as early as possible and have always found it to be a satisfying endeavor even if the results haven’t always been what I wanted. Thanks so much for the thoughtful post, Mir, and spreading the word! Tell hubby he “did good” with this suggestion. And yes, the man does deserve combat pay, but hey, he’s there willingly, right? So it can’t be too bad for him. ;-)

    Shirley

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  • Tenessa

    Posted on November 6, 2012

    My first Presidential Election was 1996. I voted for President Clinton. At the time, I didn’t pay much attention to local anything and only cared about national elections. Today that’s changed and I vote every time there’s the opportunity, and I take my kids. I cannot imagine not voting, especially as a woman. There was a time, not so terribly long ago, when women didn’t have that right in this country and there are still women in this world who don’t have that right. If nothing else I owe it to those who came before and fought that fight to get those rights guaranteed to me and all other women in the US.

    I got out this morning at 630a and waited in line in the cold (I live in NC, so my idea of cold isn’t the same as other’s), a thing to which I am allergic (cold temperatures make me break out in hives), and voted.

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  • Therese

    Posted on November 6, 2012

    Have been voting for President since 1980 (go, Ronald Reagan!) This year, I am still so torn about who to vote for. I just heard something yesterday that said in the old days whoever lost the Presidential race became the vice president. I think something like that would be great. Maybe it would make the parties work together better instead of so separately. I will be voting after work today, since I leave for work before the polls are open.

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  • Niki

    Posted on November 6, 2012

    I can’t believe a polling place would not allow children – are you supposed to find a babysitter just to go vote? Ours have always been welcomed at the polls, and given a sticker. This year I took my 17 year old (who is very into politics and social justice and is very angry that she can’t vote this year) with me, and the person setting up the voting machine not only welcomed her, but moved to the side to make sure that my daughter could see clearly! The 45 minutes we spent in line were spent discussing issues, candidates, the process, etc. – and I’m guessing many people in our line learned a lot from my kid! How are children ever to learn and care about voting if they can’t see it?

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  • Katherine

    Posted on November 6, 2012

    I feel old now. My first election was 1984. I turned 18 just before the primary that year, so I actually went and registered before I turned 18, because I had to be registered 30 days before the election. I can remember being so disappointed thinking I wasn’t going to be able to vote until I learned that I could register as long as I would be 18 on Election Day.

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  • StephLove

    Posted on November 6, 2012

    I was about six months too young to vote in 1984 and I remember being frustrated about it. I had a Mondale sticker on my locker. Have voted in every election since then, federal, state and local.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted on November 6, 2012

    I’m not in the USA, and I kind of marvel at the instilled sense of responsibility about voting, in Americans.

    I have never had faith in the democratic process. I just can’t wrap my head around the mental gymnastics necessary to feel like one vote matters. If I wanted to make a difference, I would go into politics and promote a candidate I felt was good. That way, I could affect more votes than just by casting mine.

    I think the only reason one vote matters is because the system is polarized into two parties. If there were many more, it would be chaos. I think it’s a kind of entropy that gets the system to this polarized state.

    Despite the fact that I personally don’t want to vote, I still feel glad, on some level, that smart women like Mir DO vote. If only there were more people like her.

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  • JMH

    Posted on November 6, 2012

    I always take my kids with me…I have never been told that I could not take them in the room with me…and I live in a very divided swing state! I always vote, even if the ballot is slim pickings (like this year) Even if I don’t really support either candidate (2012!!) I still make sure I vote.

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  • Mary Fran

    Posted on November 6, 2012

    The first presidential election I voted in was 1988 and I did get an absentee ballot in college. Today I also voted to preserve my daughter’s rights. What scares me about this election is the women who say “Oh, they’ll never take away my rights.” So you don’t believe them when they say they are going to, but you believe them on other issues? Makes no sense to me.

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  • Bob

    Posted on November 6, 2012

    My first election was the 1980 presidential election. I don’t remember if I voted or not – I would have been in college about 200 miles from home with no car to get there. I remember being disappointed in Carter but I don’t know if that translated into a vote for Reagan or not. I remember when I was in the military having voted absentee. Although I might have missed a few local elections here and there, I make a point of voting every chance I get and I know I’ve voted in every presidential election after that first.

    I don’t understand people who say they don’t vote, their vote doesn’t count. Everyone should remember the 2000 election that swung on 500-some-odd votes in Florida. Those some very important people.

    I get really angry about the voter-id laws, about the voter roll purges in Florida, curtailing early voting, etc. etc. Voting is one of if not the most important thing a citizen can do in a democracy. It is a fundamental right and responsibility and no one should be able to put restrictions on it.

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  • Andie

    Posted on November 6, 2012

    I’ve voted for democrats, republicans, independents, and green party candidates. I vote the person or ballot question based on what they stand for, not the letter in parenthesis next to their name.

    In this era of money being classified by the Supreme Court as free speech, the truth gets blurred if you just listen to advertisements ( $3B being spent this year to get someone elected to president…crazy!) so I agree with one of your last statments, people need to get educated and then go vote. Voting may be a right but the responsibility is too great to go into it uninformed.

    I am absolutely voting after work!

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  • Arnebya

    Posted on November 6, 2012

    Completely agree. I don’t remember the first time I voted, but I know I have not missed the opportunity since I was able to exercise this right. My husband’s grandmother is 93. I just imagine how much she went through to secure our having this ability. I listen to the things she saw and endured and I try to tell others about it (because I’ve never needed it; I’ve never doubted the purpose to vote).

    Voting today after work. I am weird in that early voting doesn’t appeal to me. I need to vote on election day but I’ve been getting giddy looking at others’ photos for days now with their Just Voted stickers.

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  • el-e-e

    Posted on November 6, 2012

    I’m sad that my 4yo daughter couldn’t go with me to the polls today – she wanted to, because they’ve been talking about the election in her pre-K class. But it didn’t work with my schedule. Next time I definitely want to try to take her! Got to take advantage of her interest level at this early age! I never got to go with my Mom, or at least if I did, I don’t remember it.

    My polling place only took 10 minutes today, by the way! Amazing!

    I am thankful for all the women who fought for our right to vote, definitely. And always for the volunteers at the polls. :)

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  • Lucinda

    Posted on November 6, 2012

    At school I watched Carter be inaugurated when I was in kindergarten (crazy huh?). I remember watching the results on the news with my mom when Reagan won the first time. I remember when our state senator visited my grade school in third grade. All of these event reinforced the right, privilege and mystery of voting so by the time I turned 18, I couldn’t wait until my first presidential election (which was two years later). I did vote in local elections before that when I was able but 1991 was the big year.

    Now I talk to my kids about the voting and even though I rage against the electoral college (my state seldom votes the way I do) and get frustrated with rural values (where I live) vs. urban values (which tend to control the vote), I still talk about our system, how it works, and the importance of our role as citizens. Hopefully they’ll get the message.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted on November 6, 2012

    It’s important to vote – to me most important to vote locally. My presidential vote doesn’t (really) count in the winner-take-all state of TX (redder than blood). My local vote does, or I like to think it does.

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  • Rachel

    Posted on November 6, 2012

    For the first time in memory, I am not voting. I don’t like either of the presidential candidates; I don’t have any information about the alternatives. I just moved and don’t even know who to ask about local issues/candidates and I’m not willing to drive two hours to the state I’m registered. And I feel guilty as hell. But I WILL keep my mouth shut.

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  • My Kids Mom

    Posted on November 6, 2012

    Same conversation here last night. I was having a school year overseas in 88, and certainly didn’t get myself an absentee ballot. But I’m not sure I voted when I was in good old Athens GA either, in 92. I think it took being an employed “grown up” -and probably having someone ask if they could register me to vote- before I did anything. Today I took my kids and one voted for our new mayor and one for our new city commissioner for me. I got to do the presidential vote. But we all got stickers!

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  • Melissa

    Posted on November 6, 2012

    My first election was the 2000 bush-gore election. I went to school in WI and remember campus stands registering scores of kids to vote (if you weren’t registered at home, which I wasn’t). I had to vote in a high crime area and remember clearly the police and the graffiti and how 4 college girls stuck out in the line of locals. I was so proud to be there with all the other voters, so proud of us all.

    I hope I always remember that pride and that feeling of really making a difference. I took my two year old today and hope she remembers how important her parents think voting is. It was kind of awesome to explain what was going on….even if she told everyone she saw that mama picked “a good pretzel” instead of president.

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  • Midj

    Posted on November 6, 2012

    From my FB post: “I VOTED” and I’ll proudly wear the sticker. Since I vote at a small church in my smallish suburban neighborhood, I didn’t have to wait, as most of my neighbors go before and after work. Thanks to my husband for holding down the fort as I exercised my right to have a say not only in the national conversation, but in the state and local races as well. With my study sheet in hand, I even made quick work of the amendment pages. Whatever else you do today, I hope you take time to voice your choice in honor of those around the world who past, present and future do not have the freedom to make their voices heard.”

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  • Anonymous

    Posted on November 6, 2012

    As an 18 year-old, right after the voting age was lowered, I proudly cast my first vote in 1972 for George McGovern, may he RIP. It was the first in a long string of lost causes, but I don’t think I’ve missed a chance to exercise my franchise since.

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  • Jessica

    Posted on November 6, 2012

    I will be voting as soon as my husband gets home. My father has impressed upon me from a young age the importance of voting. I don’t think that he does it because I’m a woman (or a girl, when he first started talking to me about voting), but I always feel like I carry the weight of being a woman who is legally able to vote on my shoulders. (I truly think my dad just realizes that voting isn’t a right everywhere or for everyone, and he just feels strongly about this privilege we Americans have.) Do I feel like voting this year? Not really. I am so fed up with politics (as in the game of politics, not the real-life outcomes of what politics should be), but I’m going to do it and do a good job of it (i.e. I’ve done my research even though I didn’t really want to ;~) )

    Also, I really just want a good election for once in my adult life. My first presidential election as a voter was 2000, so…. I will say, however, that I remember it distinctly and I was SO EXCITED to fill out my absentee ballot (I was in college, too.) It’s amazing what power a piece of paper can seem to hold when you’re 20.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted on November 7, 2012

    I took my ten year old daughter with me to vote yesterday and it was fun and rejuvenating listening to her comments like, “…so THAT’s what a ballot is!” and when she saw how we voted, her protest, “BUT…it’s like a test!” Her excitement made me remember the first time I voted. She was even excited by the election coverage on the news and how many electoral votes each state had. She eagerly awaited the announcements of who each state would be called for. We talked about how people in other countries don’t have the right to vote and how it is a privelege. We are divided politically in our household so it was also great for her to hear the two view points. Seeing the election through her eyes made it “fun” to vote.

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  • Kate

    Posted on November 7, 2012

    Yesterday, as a 16 year old, my son was eligible for the first time to work at the polls, helping voters to cast their ballots. Not able, yet, to drive alone, he needed me to drop him off at the polls…at 5:15 am. It was cold, it was dark. I may have been a touch grumpy ;-).

    He came home filled with words, sharing how awe-inspiring it was to participate in the democratic process. He spoke of how moving it was to see so many people waiting in long lines to share their opinions, and to add their individual voice to the conversation. He can’t wait until he can vote himself. Me, neither :-) >

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  • Em

    Posted on November 7, 2012

    I think the “getting educated” part is such an important and almost impossible part. I was thinking today how I wish They figured out a way to make campaigns state facts only. No BS. No twisting of facts or flinging of poo. I take my responsibility very seriously and I educate myself but in the end, I feel like I am guessing who told the truth and find myself relying a bit on who I think is the better person. Who might have led a more honest campaign? Which really is who hired the better spin doctor. I did my best, I know I did but it worries me how many smoke and mirrors exist in the political process.

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  • Leanne

    Posted on November 7, 2012

    I am not in the US, but like Anonymous, I often marvel at the American’s sense of responsibility when it comes to voting, often encouraging others to vote. Here in Australia, they tell us it’s our right, yet voting is compulsory and you’re fined if you don’t get your name crossed off the list. The process is manual and it takes days to find out the results. I often wonder if it were not compulsory if I would vote. How many of us would?

    Personally, politics doesn’t even register on my radar, none of the major parties seem to have any policies they want to talk about, and regardless of who wins they pinch elements of the opposition policies they like the look of and call them theirs.

    Maybe I’m too cynical and if I weren’t required to vote I might just not bother.

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  • liz

    Posted on November 7, 2012

    Oh, I voted alright. You bet I voted. And after that, I handed out sample ballots. And for weeks, I knocked doors. And on Sunday, I made calls. And each and every one of the precincts I volunteered in? Went for my guy. http://doorbellqueen.com/?p=7055

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