We take our freedom for granted in this country. We also shirk our responsibilities as citizens of a democracy. We have a voice and we don’t use it. Instead we get on social media and rant about our disgust with our leaders or tweet hateful comments to those who think differently than we do. This is not the way to make lasting change.
Many men and woman have sacrificed their lives to give us the freedom to choose our leaders. We can go to our polling places without the fear of being killed for casting our vote. Yet we don’t. We owe a debt of gratitude to those who have preserved our freedom. Exercising our right to vote honors those who have made that sacrifice for us.
Today was a primary election in my state. I arrived at my rural polling place around 6:40 p.m. Our polls close at 8:00 p.m. I checked in and got my ballot. I had done some research ahead of time because we have a gubernatorial election this year and the options to challenge the incumbent are scary, especially for teachers. Our current governor couldn’t get a budget passed and though he is more favorable to education than any of the other candidates, the other side has a good chance of ousting him after just one term. There’s talk that my state could end up like Wisconsin if one of these other candidates wins the election in November.
I filled in the bubbles and headed to the machine to insert my ballot. I watched the machine digested my ballot and flash 162. There was an hour and 15 minutes left to vote and I was voter number 162. The polls had been open since 7:00 a.m. and I was voter 162. Workers had been at the polls preparing since before the sun came up and near the end of their day only 162 people had walked through the doors.
People in other countries risk their lives to do what I did today. Here we leave it to someone else to decide for us. In 2005 Iraqis voted in their first democratic election in 50 years. People displayed their purple inked finger with pride after they voted. What needs to happen to instill this pride for the democratic process in Americans?
I am saddened that I was voter 162 today. My voice was heard but many more were silent. The next time you have the privilege to vote exercise your right and honor those who have preserved it for you.