THE FIRST TIME EVER I … : VOTED

We’re just two short weeks outside of the biggest election of our generation and with everyone tossing around their opinions, thoughts, and predictions I feel compelled to say something too. No, I am not advising you on who to vote for because honestly, you should know that by now. No slanderous TV ad or whatever should be swaying your decision at this point because all they are is part of a last ditch ‘pick me! pick me!’ effort. Elections are pretty cut and dry: you choose the person whose plan adheres the closest to what YOU want for your future as of now. That’s how I determine my vote, anyway.

I’m digressing, though; like I said, this isn’t to endorse anyone or force my decision onto anyone else. It’s to remember a milestone that many will experience on November 6th – first-time voting.

I’m twenty-six years old (I feel better if I spell it out; don’t judge me) and that means that I’ve been eligible to vote in two other elections before this upcoming one. However, 2008 was the first time I voted and I’ll tell you why: my eighteenth birthday was an election year (lucky me) but I was in Buffalo at school and nobody ever explained the absentee vote to me nor did I get proactive in trying to figure out how I was supposed to go about it, so I sat in my room and watched as George W. Bush won his second term and John Kerry slinked off into the unknown.

Of course if I’d considered the severity of me not voting, I would have worked a little harder to get my ballot in but I learned from this and decided to do better for the next election. In ’08, I was in Texas living my life like it was golden and the election crept up on me. This time, though, I watched debates and all that good stuff but most importantly I made sure I was registered and had my card and valid ID for when the day came. Of course I had to close at my job and I didn’t drive so I couldn’t go on my lunch break to vote like others did so my chauffeur/co-worker – who hadn’t voted yet either and I think he was actually still on the fence about voting – decided to take me after we finished our shift.

We head to the middle school and I’m grinning like shit as I hand over my ID and the lady gives me instructions on how to vote and such. It was a big thing: in all the “living” I’d done in the four years since the last election, this was the first time I actually felt like an adult. As I remember it, I think my co-worker did end up voting but don’t quote me on that. Anyway, I find my booth and head inside. I remember there being a computer screen and looking at a bunch of local names that I had NO earthly idea who they were.

I maybe recognized one or two from seeing their signs en route just a few minutes prior, so I voted for them and just pressed buttons until it got to the part I knew about. I smiled the whole time and stood in the booth for an extra three minutes to make sure my votes were registered like they were supposed to be then I walked out to receive my ‘I Voted’ sticker. I wore it home, yes I did.

Later that night, I sat with my cousin and all three TVs in the house were on news outlets as they tallied the votes – it was the most agonizing three hours ever. I got my vote in and I wanted some results, dammit! I got the results, alright. My cousin, who’s actually more like my aunt in the short time I’d known her,  was 54 years old at the time and had never thought she would see anything like what we’d seen that night it was confirmed that Mr. Barack Obama was named our 44th President of the United States. That lady hugged me so tight and we cried as we saw everyone in Chicago go crazy and cry too.

It wasn’t a boo-hoo, hysterical cry so no need to revoke my G pass – I kept it cute, don’t worry.

I voted because it’s what I’m supposed to do: I’m taking advantage of every single right I have as a citizen of this country because they’re MINE. Hell, I drink alcohol because I’m old enough to do it; I play lotto when I feel like it because I can; I vote because I’m able to and I do it for those who are just as passionate about it but aren’t old enough to vote yet. I have to watch out for them because my kids and my brothers’ kids and my sisters’ kids (when they have them) need to know that we backed up our shit talking.

No matter who you plan on voting for, just do it. It’s none of my business who you vote for – just get up and do it! Hope to see you at the polls on the 6th!

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