Friday, November 7, 2008
My voting experience: the past, the present and the future
I was looking forward to Election Day, I knew who I was casting my vote for, my mind was set, but there was a side of me that debated if my decision was right. After all, there was a lot at stake; my shrinking 401k, my job prospects, the less-than-exciting housing market, and the influence of America as a world leader. If only one candidate could take me to the future through a crystal ball and share a glimpse of stable returns on my retirement funds, my job growth and re-image of America as a world leader, I would blindly elect him.
For me, participating in this election was in sharp contrast with my first voting experience as a teenager in India. Election Day is a government holiday in India, all the schools and offices and even bars and liquor stores are closed. My voting excitement was mostly about the pride of having a black dot on my left index finger. In order to avoid voter fraud, the voter’s left index fingernail is imprinted with an indelible black ink. This mark stayed on my fingernail for several weeks, and reminded me of my freshly completed civic responsibility.
This Election Day in America, I am older and the pride is of a very different flavor. It is about me making the right choice. The media has done its job of pushing one candidate over the other. I use the word push, since some networks and radio stations failed to practice impartial journalism. Sifting through this information overload can be tough, but in the end it is about what is important to me and weighing the ability of each candidate to make my wish list a reality. With my homework done, I was there at the Town Hall at 7 a.m. on Election Day, expecting long lines, but I was wrong. The parking lot was full, but thanks to the guidance of the volunteers, I was in and out in the record time of 10 minutes.
Elections are valuable for raising the political awareness of children of all ages. My daughters Anagha who is in 7th grade and Namita in 4th grade were very engaged in this election, thanks to the comedy it sparked on Saturday Night Live. Anagha found it amusing to know that all members of the family don’t have to support the same candidate. In fact it was she who spotted the “His” and “Hers” political signs on Westford Street. (See the photo in the Mosquito of October 31). Namita worried about how one candidate’s tax plan would affect us, but otherwise she loved the candidate. She values her money, and I applaud her for having learned this skill which is still foreign to me (one reason why I count on her company while I shop; she helps me curb my shopping urges).
The Carlisle Public School has done a great job of introducing the voting experience to children by letting them participate in a mock election by setting up real voting booths in the school library, fully equipped with a ballot box. As Namita explains, “It makes me feel like my vote actually counts.”
By the time my comments are published the election results will be public. But even if my candidate were elected, I know I can’t stop worrying whether my choice was right. But I am proud to have exercised my right to vote in a defining moment in history. ∆
© 2008 The Carlisle Mosquito