Tuesday, November 08, 2016
My mad plan to be the first to vote at my precinct
Rising early would not be a problem for me. When I was teaching, I was up at 5 a.m. every day and usually arrived at the school building by 6:30 or shortly thereafter.
It was not that I was going along with all of the hype that this election was the most important one in our lifetimes. That has been said every four years for as long as I remember.
The act of voting has always been exciting for me since I cast my first presidential ballot for Gerald Ford in 1976. It did not have to be a presidential election, though. I have been excited about other elections, as well.
It is hard to forget the vote for a bond issue for a new Lamar High School in 1984 when I was editor of the Democrat, the wild and woolly Granby City Council races when I was at the Newton County News, and having to keep absolutely quiet about casting my vote in the 1992 governor's race for Mel Carnahan when I was working at the Carthage Press, one of only two newspapers in Missouri (the Joplin Globe was the other) that endorsed attorney general and native son Bill Webster.
The excitement never died down. In recent years, I have considered myself privileged to cast ballots, not only in state and national elections, but in city council and school board races.
So even though 40 years have passed since my first vote in a presidential election, I found myself just as excited to cast a vote in the 2016 election as I was when the two candidates were Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter.
I slept for a few hours, woke up at 5 a.m. and I am pleased to write that I was the first voter at Villa Heights this morning...except for the 351 who arrived before I did.
As much as I hate to admit it, it took me two and a half hours to arrive at the church. I was distracted by reading morning news articles, listening to some of the cable news programs, and going through my morning physical therapy regimen.
My resolve was almost weakened by the siren call of a morning nap and though I avoided that pitfall, I found myself watching the typical election day coverage, including the candidates voting and it was then I found the one argument that convinced me to take my time getting to the polling place.
It occurred to me that while I was watching Hillary and Bill Clinton vote, and listening to the hosts talking about the expected arrival of Donald Trump to exercise his constitutional right, that on this one day, there was not one presidential candidate, not one millionaire, not one lobbyist, not one CEO whose vote counted any more than mine did.
And mine would count just as much if I arrived at 8:30, as it would if I elbowed my way to the front of the line at 6.
It is the beauty of the system.
As I completed my ballot, turned it in, and received the sticker saying I had voted, I looked at the people sitting at the tables reading over the candidates and the issues and making their marks.
I wondered how many of them thought this is the most important election of their lifetimes and perhaps it is ... at least until the next one comes along.