Photo by Rachel Campbell.
Turning 18 officially makes you an adult in the eyes of the law. You can legally buy a pack of cigarettes, pierce something, tattoo an arm or a leg, scratch off a lottery ticket and get married to name the bigger adult-worthy things. Oh, and relevant to the month of November, you can vote.
I was 16 the last time a presidential election occurred. I didn’t follow the campaign as closely as I do now because I couldn’t legally change anything. But now, at age 20, my vote will count for something. This month marks the first time I ever voted in any type of election besides the ranking of classmates in high school or college for student government positions.
In a way, voting for the first time was far less exciting than witnessing my mother use an electronic device set up in the gym of the elementary school down the road from my childhood home. She would wait in line for an hour at least amongst hundreds of people, cast a ballot and receive an “I Voted” sticker on her way out. I, however, waited weeks to receive my absentee ballot only to drop it in a mailbox and hope that it made it back to West Virginia in time.
However, it wasn’t really that simple. I first had to do research to see how I could properly vote. Living three hours away from my hometown meant that showing up at that same elementary school that my mom and neighbors lined up in was not an option on election day. I opted to request an absentee ballot and wait for it to arrive. I followed all the instructions and put papers inside layers of envelopes. Yes. Three envelopes all had to be sealed and filled out in a proper way.
In order to make sure something I was questioning was correct, I placed a call to my county clerk’s office, the place that had supplied the ballot. Before I could finish my sentence, the words “absentee ballot” sent the once perky person on the other end into a frustrated tone who refused to say anything except the number of another department I needed to contact. Twenty minutes and three people later, my question was finally answered and my ballot was mailed soon after.
Despite not having the satisfaction of walking around with a sticker on my chest, advertising that I had voted that day, it was a rush when I dropped that completed envelope in the mailbox. I knew at age 16 that I wanted to take advantage of my rights as a U.S. citizen and vote in the 2012 elections. Hearing President Obama speak on campus this past September truly inspired me to get out there and do it, even if it took more effort than showing up at my polling place on election day.
No matter your political party or candidate preference, it’s a unique experience to vote for the first time and I suggest you try it.
What were your first voting experiences like? Who did you vote for? Let the Burr know below!blog comments powered by Disqus