In my county, I am happy to announce that I was the 14th person to vote in the 2012 Presidential Election. To counteract the cloud of progressive dismay overshadowing the race this week, I decided to be at the county clerk’s office when it opened this morning at 8am, to be among the first wave of voters. The several dozen of us early birds apparently delighted the cheerful election workers, seemingly all women-of-a-certain-age, one of whom declared, “So many people want to vote early!”
(To find out when early voting starts in your state, go here.)
I filled out a card with my name and address, which the workers used to print out the appropriate ballot for my precinct, since early voters from all precincts in the county can vote at the county clerk’s office. After a short wait, one of the workers called my name, handed me my ballot, told me to fill in the oval bubbles completely (no checkmarks or Xs), and directed me to a voting booth. Which I occupied.
In my state, this is the first election that voting a straight ticket is not an option. That is: before, you could fill in one oval bubble to vote for all Democrats or all Republicans, a “straight ticket.” Now you must vote for each candidate all the way down the ticket. Some people will not know that, and after voting for the presidential candidate, they will think they have voted for all the candidates of their preferred party. (Call your county clerk to ask if your state offers the straight ticket option.) Here, the Republicans are hoping to suppress votes for the down ticket races this way, especially state legislature reps—and surely we are all becoming painfully aware of how important it is to have a Democratic majority in our state legislatures. State-mandated vaginal probe sonograms, anyone?
I started from the bottom. Constitutional amendments, bond issues, judges, state legislature representatives, public defenders, US Congressional representatives, US Senate representatives, and finally US President. So many oval bubbles to color in. Voting as a meditative act, especially on one cup of coffee.
Then I fed my ballot into the counting machine and applied my “I Voted Early” sticker to my shirt. It is done.
Now my vote cannot be suppressed, tossed into a bin and forgotten, lost in the mail, or sabotaged by an untimely onset of flu on November 6th. My vote is in the bank.
I highly recommend early voting, especially to those who like immediate gratification.
And yes, my friends, I hear those of you who are attached to the sentimental tradition of voting at the polls on election day, and I share those sentiments. But in the current climate of suppress-the-Democratic-vote-by-any-means-necessary (I’m talking to you “True the Vote“), I suggest that the wiser course this cycle is to vote early, then volunteer to work at the polls on election day. That’s a twofer: you get to enjoy that special community ambiance for even longer and you get to contribute to the electoral process.
Other benefits of voting early:
The lines at the polls on November 6th will be one person shorter.
Volunteer time will not be spent reminding you to vote.
You’ll have more time to volunteer yourself.
Still not convinced? How about this: Your name will be taken off the call lists.
Maybe I should have started with that one.