Today was election day in my town. I voted. It was just a small election, picking three candidates for school board and voting yes or no on a budget question.
At my polling station I was voter number 202, and it was less than three hours before the polls closed. Not a stellar turn out, but that’s how it usually goes for the voting days when we’re not picking a new occupant for the White House.
I vote because I enjoy the act of voting. Like signing up for a library card or watching a documentary about the civil rights movement, it fills me with a mixture of power-to-the-people and magical Americana pride. Plus I’m a very dutiful person.
This evening’s voting took place at the high school diagonally across from my apartment. So convenient. When I lived in Massachusetts I voted at a community center in Cambridge, and before that when I was registered as an Ohio voter, I voted at a church in Jackson Township.
Both of those places passed out the coveted “I voted” sticker. My current location does not, which is cheap and lame. They also have what appear to be the stupidest poll workers (an impressive distinction), and I’m not just saying that because I don’t get a sticker after visiting them.
My preferred voting time is before work. During one election in Massachusetts I was waiting in the rain outside the polling station before the doors opened. The other woman waiting in the rain to vote with me was Denise Simmons, who was re-elected to city council that year, and through the complicated mayoral process, was appointed Mayor of Cambridge. I liked that a politician was quietly waiting in the rain outside of a locked polling station to vote. They should put that in a campaign commercial instead of soaring eagles and wind-blown wheat fields.
With Simmons’ election, she became the first openly lesbian black mayor in America. Who was the Cambridge mayor she succeeded? That would be the first openly gay black mayor in America, Ken Reeves. Needless to say, Cambridge is a liberal town, proud of itself in so many ways, and my votes for democratic candidates don’t really count because the whole area goes for the liberal candidate with or without my contribution. But I vote anyway.
Usually I’m one of the few who does. In 2008, when Obama won, there was a huge line outside of the polling place before the doors opened. I was still among the top 10 or 15 in line, but there had to be at least 100 people lined up before the doors were even unlocked. It was weird. Kind nice. But it also pisses me off when people temporarily decide voting is important during a presidential race. Like, where are you for the school board elections, asshole?
Maybe it’s time to make a voting confession: I don’t always know who I’m voting for or what the issues are. I do for the big elections. I know who is running for president, what their basic platforms are and definitely which party the person is from.
When it comes to school board elections I’m in the voting booth because I like being there. They don’t list political party affiliations for that election, and I sometime choose the person because I was handed a flyer with a candidate’s name on it before I walked inside. Or their name just sounds good in a responsible and forward thinking kind of way, and so I select it while I’m in the booth with the red, white and blue curtains pulled shut behind me.
Tonight, I had to vote on a budget question that went something like this: Do you approve spending X number of dollars on the budget. I voted yes. I don’t know if the question made the ballot because people want to expand the budget or decrease it. I don’t even know if the voting results affect the final approval of the budget or not.
It’s like those trick Issue questions they put on the ballot. “Do you vote yes or no on Issue 123?” That’s it. No longer explanation given. Voters are expected to do their research before hand, and memorize an issue number and their corresponding yes or no vote.
Clearly, I’m not responsible enough to do that every time. But I vote out of a sense of love, not responsibility. And love is foolish every day of the week, even on Tuesday.