This I Believe

Ann - Timonium, Maryland
Entered on January 9, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe in voting. Now, admittedly I’m the equivalent of a political nerd. I carry a pocket Constitution and Bill of Rights in my purse and have never offered my identification at the polls as anything less than my voter registration card (which I also carry, with pride, every day). I follow a passionate politician in whom I believe the way other people follow Hollywood celebrities. I’m excited by the variety of opinions in the journalistic coverage of a single issue. I can be dismayed by things that happen in this country – or flat out ashamed of things like the fact that we have, over the past many years, seemingly been more happy and willing to vote in a new Idol, than a new leader for our country. But I am never more turned on as an American than I am in a year like 2008, where we have a leader that can no longer run and an entirely open democratic system.

I lie awake for hours awaiting decisions – impassioned, as a child of the 60s and the civil rights movement, by a black man taking an early-caucus state – elated, as a woman born and raised in Seneca Falls, New York, to watch a woman make a victory speech in an early primary – connected to people who, like it or not, were tied to the destruction of lives in my home state on 9/11 – surprised to find my northern self listening carefully to the ideas and opinions of a Southern Baptist turned governor turned presidential candidate.

I’ve held a lifelong philosophy of having a right to complain if you cast a vote and your candidate didn’t get in, in concert with a firm belief that if you don’t vote you have no right to gripe.

I’ve taken my son to vote – for 18 years, in 3 states, through any number of ways to actually cast those votes (including one absentee ballot). Last year we spent hours on our porch, combing through the myriad of candidates running for different positions, discussing the necessity to vote in a primary, how to discover the issues most important to you, how to get over your #1 not being everybody’s, and how to live with the other guy (or gal) getting in. We got to the polls to learn that the laws had changed. For the first time in his life I couldn’t take him in with me to actually vote unless I claimed an inability to physically cast it myself. I signed the paperwork to let my son vote in my stead.

This year, he’s registered. We’ve watched countless debates. We’re waiting to see if our state has the decency to reverse a last-minute decision to disallow students who will be 18 in November to cast a primary vote next month.

Our forefathers and foremothers fought to gain our right to vote. I believe in it, and I believe that the voters in those early states do, too. Do you?