Tuesday, November 6, 2012

An Honor and a Privilege

 I stood in line to vote in the Small Town community center this morning. I won't lie; I'm glad to see the end of this election season. I have friends from all over the political map, and my Facebook feed has practically burst into flames from the heat of their passion.

Even within my family I hear arguments that span liberal and conservative, blue and red.

Today, though, after I presented my photo ID to the election clerk and walked to the voting booth, I indulged in a family tradition that is part of this patriotic privilege. As I worked through the contests, in a couple of the races in which a popular incumbent is unopposed, I wrote in the names of my family members.

Husband got one vote for the state board of education, one of the Boys has a nod for a judge-ship, another will be counted in the final tally for register of deeds.

This started out as a joke when the oldest Boy began voting. Wouldn't it be a hoot, he thought, if he wrote in his best friend's name as a candidate for sheriff? Of course the vote was meaningless; even in small towns an unopposed candidate always wins in a landslide. As his brothers got old enough to vote, though, they cast their ballots for each other for precinct committeeman, for court of appeals judge.

And what began as a joke has turned into something bigger. As I cast my vote this morning, I thought about how this write-in tradition has come to represent my optimism about my country.

Any citizen, even the ones I write in, could become a real candidate. That person could be elected by a majority of the voters, and could hold an office, and that is an amazing fact. Citizens of hundreds of countries around the world cannot say the same thing.

When the ballots are counted, those votes I cast for my family members also will be counted--I wasn't forced to approve a candidate I didn't support in an "election" to uphold a dictatorship.

A vote in the United States of America, isn't just a vote for a person. It's a vote for a system that constantly affirms that in a government for the people and by the people, I can have a say and make a difference.

We are the people.

1 comment:

  1. I wrote myself in for a local race the first time in voted (in Great Bend!). You can imagine my parents' chagrin when my name was announced over the radio the next day! At least I knew my vote was counted.