Recently, I've been corresponding with someone I've never met. We're planning to be friends as soon as we get the time. Lately, we've been busy. For practice, for now, we're being imaginary friends. We're doing a pretty good job so far.
This weekend, I gave myself citizenship homework. Voting in San Francisco is a major undertaking. We may be--dare I say it?--a bit overzealous about democracy. Counting both state and local measures, my fellow San Franciscans and I are asked to weigh in on 42 propositions. Forty-two. Everything from plastic bags to parole. From soda to seniors. Among these is a proposal to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in local elections, to which I say, "Sure. See how they like it."
In the midst of my ballot research, I sent a small plaintive email to my future friend (also a San Franciscan), to which he replied with sympathy and shared trepidation about making the wrong decision about some critical issue. He himself has already voted. He said, "I'm 99.9% sure that you walk to your local polling place in person and cast your vote."
By this, he may well have meant "you are so hopelessly out of date, surely you do this in the least efficient possible way." Maybe. But for whatever reason, when I read it, I was as chuffed as could be. In part, I was just pleased that he was right. My imaginary friend totally gets me. It made me think about this choice though. It would be easier to vote absentee, surely, but I know I'd miss the "we're all in this together" comradery of showing up at my polling station. I like the "these are the people in your neighborhood" aspect. I like the connection--to my neighbors and to my nation. I like the public display of earnest scouting-badge-style good citizenship. I like the knowing, patient smiles as we all wait our turn to be counted. I like the sticker.
Even as I have almost nothing good to say about this election cycle, and even though I think 42 propositions is too many propositions, I am still grateful to get to vote.
That said, this year, more than ever before, I'm eager for the whole thing to just be OH-VER, so I may vote early. I'll miss the garage polling station a block from my house--they got new lights before the primary and everything. But voting at San Francisco City Hall may be even more exciting than a sticker. Just look at it.
Democracy. Let's do this.
I voted early in glamorous city hall AND I got a sticker. A really good day for America.
Me: Oh! Stickers!
Election worker lady: You gotta have the sticker.
Me: Yes! I've never voted early before. I wasn't sure you'd have the stickers.
EWL: This is the Department of Elections! I would hope we'd have the stickers!
Good point, Election worker lady, good point. If not you, who?