Ever since I was a little kid, I always enjoyed the idea of being able to vote. I would accompany my parents on Election Day to the polling place around the corner from my house. I’d watch in awe as my parents ticked the tiny buttons and pulled the giant lever to cast their votes and open up the drape to the voting booth.
In the eighth grade I ran for Student Council and still remember the exact line in my pre-vote speech that won me the election:
“I may not have the face of Rob Lowe or the body of Arnold Schwarzenegger, but I have a mind that belongs in office.”
It tells you a lot about where my brain was when I was 13. It also tells you how awesome 1986 was now that both Lowe and Schwarzenegger are still relevant. Thanks to that witty one-liner I won a seat as the Student Body Secretary. It took me a day or two to realize that it didn’t mean I was going to do a lot of typing. The 13-year-old chauvinist in me still wasn’t crazy about the title.
When I entered high school I ran for, and won, the role of Homeroom Representative in my Freshman and Sophomore years. It was a step back from Class Secretary but still involved – the equivalent of being a City Councilman. But that was it for me and student body politics. Throughout the remainder of High School and college I was just a plain old student.
But the day I turned 18 it was a joyous occasion. It meant that I was entitled to vote. For many people my age that’s not much of a big deal, but for me it meant that I was an adult. It meant that I was able to take part in something that makes America such a great place.
I couldn’t imagine not wanting to take part in selecting those people who are supposed to represent my best interests when passing laws. I couldn’t fathom not caring to know which candidates had similar beliefs to me and which were more likely to vote in favor of laws that I would otherwise oppose.
Since my very first election in November of 1991 and up through Tuesday’s Primary election in Pennsylvania I have never failed to take an opportunity to vote. And I always do what I can to make sure others get out and vote when the opportunity is there. I’ve voted for everything from pollsters to Presidents, for Clerks and Commissioners and everything in between.
In one of the first elections after moving to the burbs, I found myself in the Abington Free Library looking down at a digital keypad and filling in a write-in vote for the very first time in my life. There were two blank spots on the Democratic ticket for Committeeperson. So, going against my better judgment, I decided against voting for Mickey Mouse (I hear he gets a lot of votes every year) and typed in my own name. Then went home satisfied that I had voted like I do two times every year.
Four days later I received a letter in the mail congratulating me on being tied in the voting for the position of Democratic Committee-person for Ward 11 in Abington. The letter mentioned that there would be a special run-off vote in Norristown and I would be notified if I won in the coming days.
I panicked. Mostly because I wasn’t exactly sure what it meant to be a committee-person. Also because I was concerned that Mickey Mouse would put a hit out on me for winning an election against him. But lo and behold a few days later I received a certificate in the mail confirming my biggest fears.
I was officially declared a Committeeperson.
And just like that I became a proud member of the Abington-Rockledge Democratic Committee (ARDC). In the years that followed (yes, years) I would watch over elections, standing outside the Library handing out flyers and making sure voters were informed of any ballot questions. I would attend meetings, walk in parades, knock on doors and shake lots of hands. It was a crash course in politics on a small scale and I realized that I had a ton of fun being involved in the community.
When I bought my house and moved I learned that I had to give up my seat as a committee-person in Ward 11. I was saddened but quickly learned that there was an availability in my new Ward (Ward 5) for the same exact position. I traded in standing outside of the Library for standing outside of a church and was able to remain in a role of Committeeperson.
But eventually I realized something about politics. I didn’t like it. I loved being a part of my community and taking an active role in making my hometown a better place to live. I loved making new friends and connecting with other people in the area who had similar interests and beliefs, but the political part of politics was just something that sapped the fun out of everything for me.
So, after thinking about it for two or three weeks, I decided to resign from local politics. I stayed active with the Roslyn Events Committee thanks to Commissioner Lori Schreiber and through that wonderful organization get to work every year with great people to organize and run the Roslyn Film Festival and Roslyn Pet Fair.
And even though I’ve grown tired of politics I still have my fervor for voting. Just as importantly, I make sure to tell my friends every year to vote. Twice a year, even.
But come to think of it, I should probably warn them about voting for themselves.
TUESDAY, MAY 17th 2011 IS PRIMARY ELECTION DAY IN PENNSYLVANIA. To find your polling place go to https://www.pavoterservices.state.pa.us/Pages/PollingPlaceInfo.aspx