Good morning. And by that, I really mean...GOOD Morning! Or, you could also say great morning. "Friggin awesome morning!" works well, too. I wanted to share a little story that really inspired me, and frankly, with all the good coming out of yesterday, has been what actually affected me the most out of yesterday's events, by highlighting the importance of the right to vote. It's brief, and I hope you enjoy it. Onward, beyond the squiggly orange croissant...
I have this friend named Annie. She's 21, and so this was her first Presidential election. She came to America from China when she was very young, worked hard, and now is about to graduate from an Ivy League school. That's not necessarily really relevant to this tale, but I think it adds an additional element, and I find it really great.
As our last class of the day came to a close yesterday afternoon, she told me about a problem with voting. When she registered to vote, she did it with a friend. They turned in both of their registration cards, but while her friend received the postcard in the mail telling her of her polling place, Annie did not. Maybe the card got lost somehow, maybe it just didn't get processed, who knows? The point is that she did in fact register to vote, but somewhere along the way her registration was derailed.
First, I gave her a couple places to check her registration. She told me she had already done that; she also checked the same friend, who came up right in the system right away. So clearly, there was some sort of issue. I had to catch the bus, so I made sure she knew how to vote provisionally, but I didn't really know if there was any other advice than that which I could offer.
Later that afternoon, I got a text from her about being disappointed about not being able to vote. I felt pretty bad, but other than suggesting the provisional path, I really didn't know what to tell her. I'd like to say I had the perfect solution, but that wasn't the case. I had nothing.
Fast-forward a few hours. Just past 11pm, she sent me another text:
Wait, what? I asked her to elaborate.
"DUDE, I VOTED BY COURT ORDER."
"Called the Board of Elections, they made me call the DA. Then called the notary public, talked to the notarizer. The notarizer said I could vote by provisional ballot or obtain a court order. Didn't want to vote provisional, met the notary public on campus. Signed the petition that he typed and printed. He stamped it, he drove to the judge's house, got the judge's signature, brought it back to me on campus. I went down to the church to cast my vote and the people there were like...wow...so persistent."So persistent? Understatement of the year! But then, she sent me the best text, in all caps:
"DUDE, TIMES LIKE THESE MAKE ME SO PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN!"You and me both. And here's something important to note--we live in the state of New York. A lot of people would not have made this effort period (myself included?), even in a state like Ohio or Virginia or Florida, let alone New York, a state in which absolute victory for President Obama was never in any kind of doubt. But here's the thing--she wanted to vote. She wanted it to count. She didn't want her provisional ballot to go unopened, she wanted to vote. And for that, I applaud her. I also applaud the efforts of the notary who was under no obligation to go to these extraordinary means to help one single person cast one single vote.
The most important thing for me about the story? I'd have to say it's remembering the incredibly high value of that one vote, to one person--something we sometimes take for granted. It's the incredibly high importance of the vote. It's something we are lucky to have, and we shouldn't ever forget that. Sure, her vote for the President was only 1 out of 3,844,833 and change in New York, and only 1 out of nearly 60 million nationwide. But in my opinion, it was, perhaps, the most important vote out of all of them.
Proud. Democracy, for the win.
Postscript: I have to say, I was also very excited to take my almost-6-month old son to the polls with me. Sure, he doesn't understand it now, but I think he'll appreciate it later. And is there anything wrong with getting them started early on civic duty? I think not. Anyway, after I inserted my ballot into the machine to be collected, I let him push it in to be accepted. His "first vote!"
I'm very happy today.
outside of the polling place
Barack Obama on the Working Families Party line, that's my boy!