As circus-like as this U.S. election cycle has been – and it promises to get even crazier as we head into the general election – my right to vote isn’t something I take lightly. I remember going to the polls with my mother and having her tell me what a privilege it was to be a citizen and be able to cast her ballot. Even at that very young age, I looked forward to the time when I would be old enough to do the same.
I come from a fairly politically-active family. My mother was a member of the League of Women Voters and politics was often a topic of discussion around the dinner table. Even before I could vote, I volunteered for political campaigns. One of my favorite memories was walking a precinct with the actor Jon Voight (who, I understand has since turned more conservative) in support of George McGovern. The look on people’s faces as they answered their door was pretty funny—even those who didn’t support Senator McGovern stuck around to listen to our spiel.
I have voted in every election ever since I was old enough to cast a ballot. Although once or twice I mailed in my ballot, unless I’m out of town on Election Day I prefer to physically go to the polls. There is something about standing in line with my neighbors and performing this very American ritual that makes me feel that I’m a part of a greater whole. Although many election results don’t turn out the way I’d like them to, I take pride in knowing that I took the time and my vote was counted.
California, with its rich pool of delegates, is one of the last states to vote in the primaries. At one point, we thought that we’d actually have a voice in the selection of the presidential nominees but, once again, it appears that it is a forgone conclusion for both parties. Regardless, I have cast my ballot and will watch the results as they come in this evening. Even if my vote won’t influence the outcome of the presidential primary race, there are plenty of local and state offices and ballot measures that need to be decided.
Today, the first Tuesday of June, I am so grateful that I can freely cast my ballot and that my parents instilled in me the importance of being involved and having my voice heard. I am also grateful that tomorrow I will no longer be the recipient of political robo-calls on my phone and that my mailbox won’t be stuffed with oversized, glossy campaign advertising.
21 thoughts on “GratiTuesday: The right to vote”
You very eloquently describe the privilege of voting. I was only 12, and my parents were Nixon supporters, but me and my friend also went door-to-door for McGovern. Too bad we weren’t old enough to vote. He could have used a few more that year.
I was too young to vote for McGovern also but he inspired me. Probably something like how Bernie is inspiring a lot of younger students now.
I share your gratitude and determination to vote at all times. However, we are going into our fourth vote since Sept 14 (Scottish Independence Referendum, U.K. Parliament Elections, Scottish Parliament Elections, now the European Referendum) so it’s hard to avoid feeling a bit of voter fatigue! This European campaign is particularly nasty, so while in a way I feel “a plague on both your houses” the result is important and I hope everyone gets out to vote on the 23rd June.
I’ve been following the European Referendum and understand why you might be feeling a bit exhausted (and probably a little nervous) by the whole thing. I think many of the world’s economies are watching that one too.
Yes, I think a vote to leave would be disastrous for many reasons.
November will be so very important, and I hope, historic.
I guess one could argue that it will be historic either way. I spent just about my whole morning walk trying to convince my walking buddy that she needed to vote in November.
I, too, was active in the McGovern campaign. Something about that defeat demoralized me but I continued to vote. In 2008 my husband changed parties so he could vote for Hilary in the primary which I found interesting. That primary was the busiest I’ve ever seen it at our voting district. This year he changed back to vote against a candidate. I didn’t think Obama was ready in 2008. He didn’t have the connections or whatever it takes to make it work. Now I wonder if any president can make it work. I blame it on the tea party rhetoric of not compromising but government is stalled. Locally we have some interesting contests going on. Enough to make that interesting.
We are eerily alike Kate. That was my exact thought about Obama in 2008. Needs a little more seasoning. Hillary knows how to work her way through the BS. But in hindsight I think he has done the best he could under very difficult circumstances. And I think history will treat him very kindly.
I agree with everything you said, Kate. Unfortunately, Washington has become so toxic that it’s hard to imagine anyone getting anything done. Compromise has become a dirty word and everyone’s heels are dug in the sand. But, I keep voting hoping that something will change for the better.
Thanks for posting this! Our right as Americans to vote is the ultimate freedom. I remember proudly voting as an 18 year old in 1978, against Prop 13, which forever changed California. Yes, tax change was needed, but so many good programs in schools and in recreation organizations were wiped out. For this primary, I had never changed my name officially with Sac County so I got my mail-in ballot too late to mail. So I walked my dogs and my pink envelope to the polling place early Tuesday morning and killed a couple of birds with one stone! Enjoyed the privilege!
One of the reasons I like going to the polls is to get my “I Voted” sticker. I’m not sure if that’s just a San Diego thing or a California thing. I do remember the year they didn’t give them out and heard load and clear they needed to be brought back. It’s sort of a badge of honor and a good reminder to others to get out and vote too.
We get stickers here in Sacto county. However my daughter in Mountain View did not because she mailed it in. She actually drove to another polling place and got one 🙂
I never, ever take that privilege for granted. And whenever someone starts ranting and raving about politics, I ask them if they voted. You’d be surprised how often they say no! That, then, means you no longer have the privilege of commenting on our political system. Either in or out people!
Yes! I can understand the feeling of one little vote not counting but it’s the collective WE that votes and that collective WE counts for a lot.
My husband always asks that too. Amazing how many people complain but don’t vote, not even locally.
Well said, Janis. I also take my voting privileges seriously and have never missed a chance to cast my ballot. I hope you’re enjoying the post-campaign quiet for now.
Certainly it is the calm before the storm.
I can’t imagine not voting. We are so privileged to have the right.
I am always amazed when people say they don’t vote. To me it is a right, a privilege, and a responsibility (one that many people of the world don’t have).
I completely agree. Also those who don’t vote have no right to complain.
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