As many of you know, I recently became a United States citizen. It was long overdue and a day of very mixed emotions for me, about which I wrote here. One thing I knew for sure, however, was that I was looking forward to exercising my right to vote and, probably surprising to many Americans, serving on a jury. My chance to vote came not long ago, and it was actually a somewhat important vote. Angelenos were voting for their next mayor.
I received my Official Sample Ballot and Voter Information Pamphlet many weeks in advance. It was a lot to read (88 pages!) and make sense of. I noted the date and place to vote, and then as the weeks went by, paid more attention to campaigning than I usually did.
Election Day came quickly. The day before my husband had suggested we go and vote together, but the day of we had a busy morning with commitments and lunch and then we headed back home totally forgetting about it being Election Day. It wasn’t until I was making dinner that I suddenly realized that we hadn’t voted yet. I was determined not to miss my first opportunity to vote. Luckily, the polls were open until 8pm and only a couple of minutes away from our house. After dinner, I quickly collected my sample ballot and made sure I knew how I was voting and headed to the polls. Hubby stayed home with the kids who were already in pjs. I wasn’t able to convince them to join me for an after-dinner family outing.
I was a little nervous. I didn’t even know how the voting machines worked. My kids, having accompanied their dad to vote in the presidential elections last year, knew more about the logistics of voting than I did. But I didn’t let that deter me. I entered the room where the booths were set up and was greeted warmly. I proudly told them this was my first time voting since I was a new citizen, and they were happy and eager to show me how to proceed. And they were curious to hear my story of becoming a citizen. I ran into a neighborhood friend there as well and shared my voting news with her, too. Everyone was very congratulatory and friendly. It was a very pleasant affair! And I felt a great sense of pride knowing that I had a say in who was going to be our next mayor.
As I headed back to the car, I called my husband to tell him about my experience. He asked if I had received my “I voted” sticker, and of course I had proudly put it on. It seemed like my husband was going to skip voting this time around so I did my best to convince him otherwise. I told him his name was there just waiting for him to sign next to it, and there was no worry about having to wait in line to vote. There was always somebody there while I was there but never a line, though it did seem to be picking up a little that last half hour before the polls closed. It didn’t seem like I had convinced him, but to my surprise, he was ready to leave for the polls as soon as I pulled up in front of our house. I felt good knowing that we both had cast our votes and been good role models for our kids who one day hopefully will be as diligent about casting their votes as well.