Here in Washington State, my ballot has already been dropped, received and counted. I remember first moving to this “vote by mail” state and missing the ritual of showing up Election Day at my polling place, filling out my ballot in a curtained booth, handing it to an election official, and receiving in return a little “I voted” sticker to wear the rest of the day. Today, however, I am exceedingly grateful to those who made voting so accessible here in Washington State. My ballot arrived, unsolicited, in the mail. At my dining room table I researched the candidates and issues and filled in all my choices. While running other errands last weekend I stopped at a nearby drop box and turned it in. And with on-line tracking, I now know it has been received, accepted, and even counted.
In the meantime, family and friends in other states are telling me about their experiences. My nephew in Texas said of his early voting, “In and out in 10 minutes.” A friend who lives in the same city reported waiting 2 hours and 7 minutes. Then she said, “If I can do it, so can you.”
Day by day I’m hearing from folks. “I voted.” Or I’m hearing a commitment to do whatever it might take to vote on Tuesday.
Thank you, voters. This year as we have recognized the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, and recognized in that celebration the fact that access to the ballot continued to be blocked for women (and men) of color for decades through “legal” harassment and concerted efforts at voter intimidation, suppression, and terror. Though tempered by the Voting Rights Act of 1965, disenfranchisement has come roaring back in our 21st century U.S.A.
So folks in my congregation have joined others across the nation reaching out and encouraging people to vote. We have written letters, sent postcards, made phone calls, and sent texts. Thank you
And just this morning I heard a young person on the radio say “I didn’t know how. I didn’t know it mattered. But now I know. I know that people worked hard to keep my ancestors from voting, and my ancestors sacrificed much to get the right to vote. Now that I know, I will do whatever it takes. I vote because they couldn’t. Now I vote because they gave so much so that I could.”
So this post today is dedicated to one thing. VOTE. If you can, vote. And by “if you can,” I mean if you are eligible, do whatever it takes to cast your ballot. Learn whatever you need to know. Get to wherever you need to go. Stand in whatever line must be stood.
Whatever we have to face after the election, interesting or not, let’s face it knowing we did what it took before the election to make our voices heard.