Oddly enough, my voting history is equally split between California and New York. During the 2000 election, I was a college student at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. I voted at a building on campus, and, while it was cool to vote, it didn't have much of an impact on me. I felt pretty disconnected from the whole political process, and simply filling out some bubbles on a piece of paper, most of which were for people i didn't know, or ballot measures I didn't understand, just didn't mean much to me.
In 2004 and 2008 I lived in New York, in the Bronx, specifically, and I had to walk to a local elementary school to cast my vote. I waited in line, walked into a booth, and stood in front a massive voting machine.
The Lever Voting Machine used in New York elections. Apparently, it is no longer being used in parts of New York. Kind of a shame, if you ask me.
To operate these machines, you push a little lever next to each of your choices. When you have cast all of your votes, you move a giant lever (that would the red diagonal bar in the picture) from one side to the other to register your particular votes.
There is something incredibly empowering about this particular method of voting. Maybe it is because I am a tactile person, but I connected more with what I was doing by voting with this machine. I can actually remember getting choked up in 2004 after voting.
It is worth noting that standing in line at our polling place in 2008, in the Bronx, was electric. There was this energy, this excitement, about the possibility of electing not only the first African American president, but also a candidate who promised so much hope and change. It helped, of course, that I was voting with the majority, so I could participate in the excitement.
In this election, back in California, Jason and I only just registered to vote a few weeks ago, and we opted for the mail-in ballot option. As exciting as it was to stand in line with a bunch of other people fulfilling their civic duty, I was not as excited to stand in line with my kids this go around. So instead of the dramatic act of standing in front of that giant machine, pushing my levers, and pulling the giant lever to cast my votes, I voted at my kitchen counter at about 11:30 last night, and Jason dropped our ballots off this morning. Slightly anti-climactic.
Despite the rather mundane manner in which I voted this year, I still have to say that when Jason called to tell me that I had just voted, my heart skipped a beat and I felt a sense of satisfaction that I had, once again, fulfilled my responsibility and taken advantage of my privilege of voting for the future of our country.