As I was leaving the newsroom, I had a decision to make. Go home and sleep, or go out and vote. The choice was pretty clear.
I also had to decide whether to cast my vote at the central polling locations on campus, or drive out to my regular polling place on the west side of town near my permanent place of residence. Considering this would be my very first time voting, I decided that I wanted to go all out and get the full experience of voting as a resident. I feel that by doing so, I’m recognizing that I’m a Columbian first, student second.
The rain was a little more steady at this point. I drove down the expanse of Broadway (through my favorite parts of town) and saw throngs of cars pulling up to the library and elementary schools and churches to vote. Despite the weather, it was a pleasant 15-minute drive.
The last time I had been to the church designated as my polling location was back in April when they were having their annual rummage sale benefiting Habitat for Humanity. The parking lot was considerably less packed than the last time, but my excitement was definitely elevated.
From there, everything went smoothly. About two dozen people, including volunteers, were inside. I matched up my address with the polling location, initialed and signed where I was supposed to and took a paper ballot to one of the empty chairs in the room.
I looked at the ballot. I had prepared by reading about the candidates, the issues and looking over the yellow sample ballot sent to me in the mail a week prior. I was ready. This was like a multiple choice test with no right or wrong answer. I had done my research. Again, to me, the choice was pretty clear.
I looked over my selections, as I do with any test I take. I placed it in the blue cover slip, took it to the final volunteer, slipped it out of the blue sheet and fed it into the ballot machine (I’m sure there’s a technical name for it, but I don’t know it at this point). The ballot sheet slid in with a low whirring sound, and the lady overseeing the process gave me my “I Voted” sticker. I might have wished her a nice day a little too enthusiastically, I was just ecstatic with what I had just been able to accomplish.
With that, I had cast my vote in my very first election. It was a pretty big one, and so far I’m happy with how it’s turned out. I’ll be going to a friend’s to watch the results come in and might wait until morning to get caught up on state election results, especially since the Senatorial results might take a while longer to determine.
No matter what the results are, I’m so grateful to have been able to do what I can to voice my opinion within the vast governmental system on a local and national level. I’m living in a time where my opinions can make a difference, and other people recognize and allow for that too. And you bet I’m going to take that chance while I’ve got it.