A memory from my childhood: mom ALWAYS took my little brother and I with her to vote in each and every election. We would go with her and stand in line and watch her as she signed her name in the book before voting. In those days (we are talking decades ago) there were these huge books and in them was every signature you had ever signed, for each and every election. This row upon row repeatition of my mom's name struck me as amazing. It impressed me that she was so devoted and diligent. It was such a wonderful record of her participation in this simple yet profound demotcratic act.
I took some time to become a registered voter. I was in college , on election day and one of my printmaking professors asked me if I was going to vote today . When I told him I was not registered to vote he wisely encouraged me to do so. I do not remember what he said so it can't have been profound but it did the trick.
I have not missed an election -large or small, since. To this day I carry around that memory of that little girl inside of me who saw her mom vote and saw that long list of signatures-filling the entire page. And now that I am older, I know the history behind the right to vote in America. I know we all did not always have that right-impossible as that may seem. I know people fought for and died for this right.
And as I listen to the world news these days I hear stories-wonderful stories-about other countries holding elections & people risking their lives to cast their vote. They are intimidated, threatened and risk retaliation -all for exercising their right to vote. And they go through all of this KNOWING their vote might not even be fairly counted. My heart fills with admiration when I hear this and it feeds my own desire to vote.
I know many people do not vote. I know they feel their vote does not count. Or they believe they are abstaining in protest. Or they do not vote because their person / side never wins anyway.
I understand those feelings and even can agree with them but still I go and vote. Because voting, for me, is not about wining , losing , counting or protest. It is about my having a right that has been paid for with the blood and lives of others ...
One other thing to consider : I can not tell you how happy it makes me feel to vote. It is my chance to be a part of American politics and it is exiciting to pull that large level to the right, switch down all the little levers besides the names of folks that I may never meet (or who live down the street from me!) and then haul that big lever back to the left. I actually feel a rush as I exit that booth. I have just woven my vote into the fabric of our country.
So I encourage everyone who can vote to do so. It is such a privaledge and our country needs everyone to vote for it to be a real democracy-reflective of us all.