SHUT UP & WAIT! (Election 2008)-1Year Later


*I wrote this piece 1 year and 2 days ago after I cast my vote for President Obama.  I wanted to post this piece because of my awe at the 2009 local and national voter turnout.  Last year there was nearly a revolt the otherwise idyllic Ashburn, VA neighborhood.  This year I swore I saw tumbleweed pass my voter booth!  Its amazing how things change within a year.
 
I am very disappointed in Democrats and Republicans alike.  The voter drop-off  this year was EMBRASSING!!!  Voting for a president and expecting that h/she to change all of our ills is unacceptable.  The last election showed the power of the people.  This election showed how willing people are to give away their power.
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Today, I voted! I happily awoke at 6 am (actually there was plenty of crust in my eyes and I couldn’t believe the alarm didn’t go off) to cast what will be one of the most important votes of my life.

When I arrived at the polling place, the energy seemed pleasant. Happy to have my last name begin with “G”, I strolled up to my line, received my ballot ticket, strolled to the next line, and cast my vote. Total wait time: 45 minutes. But the long line to my left, that curled behind me as well, didn’t have such an easy time. “L-K” folks had a longer wait. Seemed a few people forgot IDs or wanted to chat up the election workers. The energy from the “L-K” folks was negative to put it mildly. A fellow voter in front of me joked with the people to our left about having to wait. One woman said she was ready to throw something at him that’s how angry she felt. She was dead serious. Another man complained from the time I checked in until the time I received my paper ballot about how long his wait had been. Another man complained his back hurt from standing so long and he didn’t understand why he had to wait. It was 7:15 AM and the gripes were beginning.

I listened to the complaints, groans, and moans and sympathized a little. Standing on concrete is unpleasant and bad for the joints. But my sympathy was short. Very, very short.

This is probably one of the most historic elections since JFK took office. The country is at a critical point financially, internationally, and domestically. The economy is in the toliet. Neighborhoods are seeing steep declines in housing values. The US military is stretched thin all over the Middle East (did anyone notice the attack on Syria?). Major corporations are cutting jobs left and right (GM and Ford reported profit losses probably means more jobs lost). Times are rough. And the time for change has arrived.

Election Day is the day that we, American citizens, decide which direction we want to take the country. Record numbers of people are voting for the first time. People who have sat out for years feel a need to exercise their right on this day. So guess what? BE PREPARED TO WAIT!

This is not beauty contest (though at times its felt like it). You’re not choosing high school superlatives. Today’s vote is for future. Where do we want the country to go? Who do we want to begin us on that journey? Everyone has something at stake in this election. A lot of people want their voices heard. Republican. Democrat. Independent. Black. White. Latino. Asian. Woman. Man. Old. Young. The voices are many and they are diverse. And the body that carries those voices are showing out in historic numbers today.

I am proud to wait in line. I am proud to have dragged my butt out of bed. I am proud that I exercised my right to vote. A right that was denied to my family in the past because of their race, gender and in some cases, both. If time is all I have to give to have my voice heard and stand for my beliefs, then time is what I willingly pay.

I undestand that for voting is a burden for some. Time off work means pay lost. And for those, I understand why waiting isn’t acceptable. The election rules should change. Election Day should be a federal holiday where all can take their time to cast their ballot. No one should be forced to decided if going to work trumps voting for the position that greatly impacts their lives.

For everyone else, SHUT UP AND WAIT! Millions are voting today. Until the election rules change, there will be lines because of the process. We can’t vote by text. You can’t phone it in. No, you won’t be allowed to email your vote to the election board. But you can stand and wait.

Think about how important voting is to you and then think how important is to millions of American citizens. We are all waiting for the chance to have our say. We are all waiting. There is no need to get nasty. There is no need to threaten your fellow line mates. When you have an opportunity, tell the election workers your concerns and then lobby your election board to devise a more efficient way to cast ballots. That’s right get involved in your local politics! Become civically engaged!

Everyone is tired. Everyone has something to do today. Everyone wants to cast their vote. Everyone is waiting. So please, SHUT UP and WAIT!

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