When I was in high school, I was about two months to young to vote in the 1988 presidential election. I vaguely remember being annoyed by this.
So, the first time I voted for president was in 1992, when I was in college. I voted absentee since I was still technically a resident of my parents’ county. I must have done this by mail because I remember discussing the election with my roommates before sending the ballot off.
In 1996, I lived in an apartment in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood. My polling place was a little white church right across the street. I remember being amused by all the political signs that popped up like weeds right before elections. Looking at google maps, it looks like the church is still there.
In 2000, I still lived in an apartment, but now in Berwyn, and I was anxiously waiting for my new house to be finished. I can’t remember where our polling place was that year, but I know that I voted. On election night, we were out at a diner with friends and I still remember seeing Florida called for Gore on the news.
In 2004 I lived in that house that had been under construction during the previous election. I voted at a fire station not far away, early in the morning on my way to work.
In 2008 I was living in a different house, now across the country in Missoula, Montana. We voted at a school not far away.
In 2012, I was still in Missoula but now living in a different house, with Renee. We had exchanged rings in our “first” wedding the previous spring, but were still a couple years away from being allowed to make it legal. Montana let everyone vote absentee by mail. I was glad we had done that. People were still in line at polling places that night at 8 PM.
This year we are living in Washington state, where voting is primarily done by mail. We filled out our ballots at the kitchen table and dropped them off in a ballot drop box. Even at our own kitchen table, filling in the ovals about two weeks before Election Day, it did feel momentous to vote for a woman for president for the first time in my life.
I don’t miss waiting in line or having to plan for time to stop by the polls, but I do kind of wish I had an “I voted” sticker today.
As I was reminiscing about all the times I’ve voted for president, a few random thoughts occurred to me.
My Job has Never Made Voting Difficult
For nearly my entire adult life, I’ve worked at jobs with flexibility around time. I don’t punch a clock. I don’t lose out on pay if I miss an hour. There is no such thing as “being late to work” unless I have an early morning meeting. And I have some control over that — if I had to plan for time to go to the polls, I’d just block that off on my calendar and decline any meetings that interfered. It is highly unlikely that this would be a problem.
It seems like such a little thing, but not everyone has such a situation. Hourly workers lose pay while waiting in line. Someone working a particular shift can’t just show up late.
I have to admire the perseverance of people in other places waiting in line for hours. Voting should not take a big time commitment. It should not be hard.
So if you add up all the election years above, I have voted in six presidential elections, not counting today. (And numerous midterms and local elections of course).
This makes me feel a little old.
Anyway, I managed to vote for the winner in four of those and the loser in just two. Not a bad track record! And if you remember all the presidential races since 1992, I’m sure you could probably figure out my politics pretty easily.
Really hoping to add another victory tonight, bringing it to five out of seven!