I voted for the first time on November 8th, 2016, and it was nothing like I imagined it would be.
I went to a polling station in a neighborhood only five minutes from my own. I expected lines with hour waits at best, but when I arrived, I was one of only ten or so voters there.
A man stood outside the building and told me to get out my ID and turn off my phone. I did. Someone asked me if I was a first-time voter. Yes, I was. I got a shoutout and a few cheers from the peanut gallery. Thanks, but my embarrassed face said no thanks.
I was anticipating that someone would ask me for my voter registration, but no one did. I was expecting some grand scene, some great displays of patriotism, serious faces and wide eyes, but there were none. I got in line and filled out a form with my legal name and address. That was it. I handed my completed form to a lady at a table along with my ID, and she wrote something down and gave it back to me.
I moved to the next table where a man took my form and handed me yellow card.
While waiting in line for all of two minutes, my mom kept smiling. It was supposed to be a monumental moment, I suppose. Her kid was a grownup.
A voting box was open, so I stepped up. I placed the yellow card (that resembled a credit card) in the voting machine and pulled out a sheet with a mock ballot on it, clicked the screen a few times, and that was it. I took the yellow card back out of the slot and handed it to another lady at another table. She gave me a sticker, and that was it. I was a first-time voter. I had fulfilled my civic duty.
Welcome to America. I suppose this means I am an adult or a good citizen or some type of patriot. It feels more like I am a teenager who has waited her whole life for a completely anticlimactic moment, but I wouldn’t take it back for anything. The ease with which Americans can determine the fate of their country is mindblowing, and we are privileged to live in a country that allows us to have a voice.
It was easy to do. It didn’t take long to fill out the form and press the screen a few times. I was a first-time voter, and it’s over now. Somehow, I made a difference. With a little act, a piece of paper, and a computer screen, I contributed to the direction in which the world will go. I am left wondering how something so insignificant can be so extraordinary.