One hundred years and one day ago, my great-grandmother stepped into a voting booth for the first time to exercise her newly granted right to help choose the leaders of our nation. She was always around of being there that November, and voting was a lifetime habit she maintained until shortly before her passing. She passed that pride along to her daughter, my grandmother, and to her granddaughter, my mother. As the fourth generation to exercise that right, I do so faithfully, but I feel particularly connected to her this year, knowing I walk in her footsteps. I also walk in the footsteps of the other great-grandmother whom I never knew, who marched for the vote. If I didn’t cast my ballot, I suspect I’d receive a nocturnal visit and a firm talking to.
It is, as you might have heard, Election Day here in the United States, where “decisions are made by those who show up,” to quote Aaron Sorkin. I’ve shown up already, casting my ballot when we took my father-in-law to early voting. I do get a thrill of pride to cast my vote, but today, we’re talking about our favorite election memories, and I have some very specific ones.
In 2016, a friend talked me into working the polls that November. “It’ll be fun,” she said. So I volunteered, took two days off from work, and rolled into our designated precinct shortly before 6 AM. That’s when the “fun” began. We’d done some setup the night before, but there were signs to put out, including measuring out 100 feet from the door, the point beyond which the State of California does not allow electioneering. Registers were laid out, ballots set up, pads of 50, and we had to double check to make certain none of the ink stamps to mark the ballots were dried out. (Or exploded in the bag. But that was another election.) It was a frantic rush, because we had to open at 7 AM, especially as we were the main precinct for a multi-precinct polling station.
That also meant, when 7 AM came, I was asked to step outside and greet the line of waiting voters with the words, “The polls are open,” delivered in my best hit-the-back-of-the-auditorium voice. The cheer which went up warmed my heart.
We were insane that day. No breaks, food snatched in brief, momentary lulls which were few and far between. But it was rewarding work especially when I checked a first-time voter off on the register, and had the privilege of saying, “Congratulations. Go vote.”
Decisions are made by those who show up.
Any favorite voting memories? When was the first time you remember visiting the polls? I’d love to hear your stories. Then, visit Claire Brett to hear her tale. Also, she is participating in the “Snuggle up With These Books” giveaway on N. N. Light’s Book Heaven. There’s a chance to win one of five Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift cards. Check it out.
Until next time, stay safe and stay healthy.