The first election I ever went to was the 2016 primary election with my mom. I couldn't vote at the time, but I remember staring in awe at the magic of it all: the polling machines, ballots, volunteers and citizens. Before, politics was a distant affair, something I only read about on news articles, saw on sound bites on television news channels or heard about in charged conversations. Going to that election made it all real, current and tangible.
It was then that I knew: as soon as I turned 18, I would vote.
I registered to vote in late October. It was giddy and strange, the beginning of my journey as an adult. I watched online polls and read articles extensively. Midterms involve so many more candidates than the presidential elections I had grown accustomed to, but I continued my efforts nonetheless. I wanted my first time voting to be aware, educated and smart.
There's an amendment? Better read about it.
A governor race? Better check out their platforms.
Representatives? Better see their names.
It was tedious, but all the while, exciting. It began to dawn on me. I'm voting in the election. It's happening. It's real yet surreal, a manifestation of the cliche notion, "dreams do come true."
The day of, I went with my family to the polls. Before, there would be two adults voting. Now, there were three. I stood in line, taking in the scenery, trying to take a mental picture of my first election. The lines, the volunteers, the ambiance.
When the polls came, and I chose the amendments and candidates I had researched, I felt proud and giddy. But, most of all, I felt empowered.
I wasn't somebody who watched politics from the sidelines anymore. I was in the center of the action. Sure, it wasn't a live debate between opposing candidates or a rally, but the real action doesn't happen there. The real action happens in the polls. When active citizens participate in democracy and hold elected officials accountable. Real action is activity and awareness. All it takes is one ballot to change the way things are going, to make the world better and to shift the direction of modern discourse.
One ballot, one booth and one election.
It's so simple, and to some, perhaps even a little mundane. But you must admit, isn't it exciting to see the people we vote for on TV, to see them representing your beliefs and opinions and to see yourself through your representatives?
Democracy, my friends, is an amazing thing.