Deb Dana Wants You to VOTE

With a theme like “family rituals,” I could go any number of directions. I could tell you about our epic Thanksgiving feasts (34 guests this year!) or our annual trips to the Outer Banks or our hilarious Fourth of July jello molds.

But today I’m going to tell you about a different ritual. Today I’m going to talk about the ritual my family repeats every first Tuesday in November: we vote.

I’ll never forget the first time my mom took me to the polls. I was seven years old, and I had off from school and was looking forward to a day of cartoons and games. But at some point in the day, my mom roused me from whatever I was doing and said, “Come on. I have to go vote.”

We pulled up to the Presbyterian church that served as our local polling station, and I followed my mom as she passed a bunch of people outside the front door holding flyers and signs, none of which meant anything to seven-year-old me. I waited in line with her as we approached the voter registration desk, and then, when it was her turn, I followed her behind the mysterious black-curtained machine that reminded me of something out of The Wizard of Oz (“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”).

I should note that these black-curtained machines seemed Very Important to seven-year-old me, and not simply because they appeared to be imported from Oz. First of all, only adults were supposed to go inside, which set them apart as Grown-Up Things, and I was always very intrigued by Grown-Up Things. And then there were those curtains! Whatever was going on behind them was obviously a big secret, and I did not like being on the other side of a big secret.

Once my mom and I were both safely in the voting booth, my mom pressed a bunch of buttons and then pulled a big metal lever, all of which seemed very official and complicated. And then, just like that, we were pulling open the curtain and walking out of the church.

Obviously my understanding of voting has progressed significantly since the days of mysterious curtains and big metal levers (do they even have those machines anymore?). But even from that young age, I knew voting was important. I knew it was something that you should do, as soon as you’re old enough to do it.

And I was right. Because here’s the thing (and I know you’ve probably heard this a zillion times before, but I’m saying it anyway): thousands upon thousands of our forefathers died so that we could exercise our right to vote. Thousands upon thousands of people living in tyranny around the world wish they could do what so many of us take for granted the first Tuesday in November. The people of North Korea, the people of Zimbabwe — do you think they’d give up a chance to vote in a free and fair election? Do you think they’d forget to make it to the polls?

So, whomever you support — whether it’s Barack Obama or Mitt Romney or Gary Johnson or Jill Stein — get to the polls and cast your vote. And if you’re tempted to sit this one out, visit this site to have your excuse blown to shreds. Then pull yourself together and head to your local polling station. That’s where I’ll be today. And so will the rest of my family.

So tell me: Did YOU vote today? What is your first voting memory?

11 Replies to “Deb Dana Wants You to VOTE”

  1. Excellent post, and I love your memory of early voting. Sadly, I am here as a Green Card Carrying Canadian, and as such, I am not eligible to vote. I know what ai *want* to have happen, but as there’s nothing I can do about it I will just be keeping my mouth (mostly) shut, and watching in silence.

    1. My husband is in the same boat as you — he is a Green Card Carrying Englishman :). But in his case, I don’t think he knows what he wants to happen. He’s torn. Definitely makes for interesting dinner conversation ;-).

    1. Hooray! I’ve heard the lines in my neighborhood are long, too, so I’m waiting until they die down a bit. That’s the advantage of being a writer — I don’t have to go before work like everyone else! Although back when I worked regular hours, I did enjoy making friends at the polls. You meet some characters, to be sure (especially when I was living in DC!).

      1. It’s funny…I go before work in the mornings and there’s never a line at my polling place. Then again, a lot of the people in my neighborhood are elderly, and I think they don’t get up and out before noon. My husband votes at midafternoon and he says there’s ALWAYS a line.

  2. I remember walking into the main door of my elementary school at 18 (or so) for my first election. All the people handing out crap, I mean fliers, and going into a booth with a curtain. I also remember how small everything looked inside that school. I’m waiting until later as well. Not so much because I’m worried about lines, I just think to do my civic duty, I’m going to, you know, shower.

    1. Hahahaha, exactly! Although…I was considering going before I head to the gym, in which case, showering may not have happened… Shhhh….

      1. I am going to have to go vote unshowered. My poor neighbors.

        Liked this post so much. I remember waiting in the car while my mom voted, but the impression was the same: whatever this voting business was, it was both important and mysterious.

        Also they still have the curtains here. I always have the urge to come out of the booth in a different outfit than the one I went in wearing.

        1. Ha! You totally should do that — Super Kelly!

          And yes, I voted unshowered, in gym clothes. But I bought two chocolate cupcakes to support the schools bake sale fundraiser, so everyone wins!

  3. I voted! Actually, I voted early because I wanted to go straight to the office and comment here to tell you I VOTED and participated in the ritual.

    What actually happened was I voted, went to the office, and ran face first into a brick wall of client emergencies that didn’t let up all day. Is “delayed response to things because of client emergencies” a ritual if it happens all the time?? have to think about that one.

    But I DID Vote, and I’m thrilled you had the brilliant idea to blog about voting rituals today!

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