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Voter #70

November 4, 2008

by: Bryen Yunashko

Well, I just got home from voting.  I was voter #70 in my precinct.   There was definitely no line at the pollicing place, which actually has two polling centers in the same building covering two precincts.   You’d expect with all the excitement going on, there’d be a line around the block.  But the media likes to zero in on just a handful of polliing places around the country and say that’s indicative of what’s going on everywhere.   Nor was there any line at one of the 50 early-voting polling places near my home, despite news coverage last week that the lines were going for hours here in Chicago.

In any case, I really didn’t know who I would vote for when I left the house this morning.  I still had strong misgivings about either of the major candidates and I wondered whether my vote really mattered in this lop-sided election.  If I vote Democrat, it is just one more vote in an extremely blue state.  If I vote Republican, it is nothing more than a token vote where it won’t really change the electoral college outcome of Illinois.

Nevertheless, I walked the 4 blocks from my house, feeling quite disappointed that I still had no decision in mind, yet reminding myself that to not vote at all is the most offensive thing I can do as a citizen.  I’ve never missed an election since 1988 and I wasn’t about to start now.  I only hoped the answers would come to me when I saw the ballot.

So, I entered the polling place, and as always, was greeted by the precinct captain inside the door.  Sigh, you know, those guys aren’t supposed to be anywhere near the polling room.  But this happens to be one of the last remaining Chicago machine-politics wards, and such impropriety is on its last leg.

I showed my identification to the polling officials and was handed a very large ballot.  Clutching that ballot, I purposely took my time scanning the room for an available booth because… FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, I still had no idea how I would vote.

I see an empty booth and walk to it.   I fumble with the ballot which is actually larger than the booth’s tabletop!  I take a brief moment to read the flyer explaining that Illiinois has a Constitutional Convention proposal on the ballot and then quickly went to the ballot itself.  I flipped it over so I could vote for the smaller offices first before getting to the ultimate office “President and Vice President of the United States of America.”

Oh lordy,,, I’m getting closer to the top of the ballot, and still no idea.  What am I supposed to do???

Finally, I come to that most feared and revered spot on the ballot.  And in that moment, something magical happened.  As I stared at this section, I instantly knew what my choice was.  It shone out to me and my conscience said, “That’s the one.”

I cast my vote, received my receipt and walked away feeling better than when I had entered the building.  I didn’t vote to make a difference, I didn’t vote because my vote would change the outcome of the election, I voted purely on conscience.  I felt that this was the most significant vote I had ever cast in my life.  And that’s what makes voting a sacred right in a free society.

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