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In the quiet stillness of the voting booth

Iíve voted in seven presidential elections. We registered in government class, carefully filling out paper forms and passing them forward to be taken to the Holmes County Board of Elections.

Many found government class to be dull, full of boring processes and things that caused a teen to bob a drowsy head and sleep. I enjoyed the lectures and interactive conversations that would reveal tiny bits of a person and their leanings: a window inside someoneís thoughts.

I discovered we were all gloriously different. When November came the following year, I rolled up to the tiny yellow brick building in uptown Berlin and cast my vote. I remember feeling important, as if my vote alone really stood for something: a cog in the wheel of American politics. That year my candidate won.

In my fuzzy younger years I remember the TV being on when important political things were happening. One of my earlier memories is watching Richard Nixon step down as president, not that I knew exactly what was happening. I can see his face as he talked on the screen as I played on the floor doing whatever little kids do. Itís an indelible image Iíve retained through the years.

In second grade we voted in our class in the fall, by ballot, and picked the president for the year of 1976. I must have paid attention somewhere or been reading the newspapers that arrived at our house daily because the person I voted for did not win in my classroom.

A sinking feeling pervaded me as my classmates cheered their mock election winner. I felt left out, kind of alone, knowing I had chosen someone other than who the majority had voted for. But when November came around my candidate won the election and became the president of the United States. It was a lesson, a study if you will, on listening to your heart and knowing you donít have to be cool and vote a certain way because everyone else did.

We didnít talk much politics at home, but newspapers and nightly news kept us informed better than any 24-hour news channel ever could. I never felt that it took over the household conversation, and out in public no one ever talked about candidates and whether you were good or bad voting a certain way; it never seemed a ďmoralĒ choice.

Was I too young to understand that type of decorum? I donít think so. I was an early reader and comprehension of information and things came to me easily. I devoured newspapers as well as books as thick as my arm at the age of 6. And as my dad sold the Cleveland Plain Dealer off the back of his pickup truck, the sections ó as we put them together ó flashed fascinating information to be inhaled over the years until he stopped selling them.

Out there over coffee and 5 a.m. donuts at the local restaurants, Iím sure much hashing of political candidates took place; arguments and good-natured differences were played out. Those were the things I couldnít know, but I maintain that it was a softer, more genteel era than we have playing out now.

Iíve voted in seven presidential elections. This Tuesday will be my eighth. Iíve never voted early; I never had a reason to. I like the act of doing my civic responsibility on the given day. Iíll get in my car and drive up to my polling place and walk inside. I will sign my name and be handed a card to slide into the machine. There will be no one in the voting booth but me and my thoughts, mingled and mixed as they have been over this election season, but on election day my thoughts will be calm.

Itís been one for the ages, and I wish I could go back to government class where there was civility amongst teenagers, back to second grade where we cast secret ballots and no one hated the other for their choice, where when you stared down at a blank piece of paper and carefully scribbled a well-considered name, you knew it was your choice and yours alone.

I will remember those moments when I enter the booth and exhale, breathing deeply to take my part in the political process. The rhetoric and vitriol will fade away when I scroll through the names and press my finger on the screen and cast my vote.

Because thatís just it: Itís my vote.

Published: November 4, 2016
New Article ID: 2016711049969