It took twenty minutes from the time I got out of the car, walked across the parking lot of the Pinecrest Library through the phalanx of campaigners for various candidates, some I’d never heard of (I live in a different community than this particular early-voting location), got my ballot, marked up the three pages of candidates, constitutional amendments, and charter amendments for Palmetto Bay, got my I VOTED! sticker, and got back in my car. There were a lot of voters, and the parking lot was full, but apparently in anticipation of a large turn-out, the county had set up a lot of polling stations. Social distancing was enforced, and everything went smoothly.
Don’t ask me how I voted because other than the Big One, I don’t actually remember all the names. Frankly, for a lot of the local races, I rely on seeing who has yard signs along side the candidates I do know. So if a candidate for vice-mayor in Palmetto Bay is next to the one for the presidential candidate I support, they probably get my vote. Yeah, I know, I should be doing better research, but a lot of it is hard to find, Google notwithstanding. That said, I did read up and research the state constitutional amendments and made my informed choices.
The most important thing, though, is that I voted. You can listen to all the hype, the pundits, the Twitter feeds, the Facebook posts, your friends, your neighbors, the crazy uncle, and the guy at the gas station, but it doesn’t do anything until you stand alone in that little portable polling station, with the ballot printed out and the ball-point pen that you use to fill in the little bubble on the page next to the name. It is the most important act in our journey as a country and as a civilization. And in those twenty minutes — the average length of a TV sitcom episode — I was doing something that people have fought and died for: the simple act of casting a vote. Doing the one thing that will actually count.
What I will never understand, especially this year, are those who have the vote and don’t use it. The state and county has made it as easy as they can even with the pandemic: early voting at a lot of locations with ample parking and open for 12 hours a day; absentee and mail-in secure ballots, doing practically everything but coming to your house. How much easier can they make it, and what’s stopping you?
To be honest, I don’t want to hear your excuses for not voting because it’s not worth hearing, and if you don’t care about the outcome, then I really don’t want to be around you. This is too stark a choice not to have a voice.