Casting a Ballot

So, I went to vote in the Texas primary at midmorning.  I didn’t early vote (new verb form around here), because I love to vote on election day itself, to see friends, even wait in line, feel the crazy excitement.  My husband, who’d voted earlier, told me the lines weren’t too long — especially for Republicans.  Evidently, a Republican official had called up and down the line, “Anybody a Republican?”  But nobody was, in our West Austin neighborhood.

As I arrived at the school, I paused to talk with a woman about my own age — 50ish, to be imprecise and kind to myself — who stood outside the forbidden area wearing reading glasses and a big Hillary button.  She said she’d never seen anything like the turnout today.

“It’s so great,” she said.

“I have to tell you,” I said, “that I’m voting for Obama.”

Jeez.  It was like I had kicked her.  Her face screwed up.  “Are you sure?” she said.  “Is there anything I can do to persuade you to vote for Hillary?”

Oh, hell, I thought.  No — not unless you take back the whole South Carolina campaign and promise to muzzle Bill Clinton, who managed to remind me of why I was sick and tired of him by the time he left the White House (after pardoning everybody on God’s green earth).

“No,” I said.  “Sorry.”

She shook her head sadly.  “The first time in my lifetime,” she said, “that we have the opportunity to vote for a woman for president.”

And in my lifetime, too, I thought as I entered the front doors of the polling place.  Inside, I waited in line and chatted with neighbors, including a friend whose wife is voting in the primary for Hillary, but going to caucus for Obama.  (She’s the second person I know who’s doing this — just to let you know how conflicted so many of us are about this vote.  But I can’t imagine canceling my own vote; I’m not quite that conflicted.)

I stared at the ballot for several seconds, then voted for Obama.  I would say it felt like the most serious vote I’d ever cast, but the truth is, I feel that way every time I vote.  Still, for once, my vote might count.

Then I left the polling place and said good-bye to the woman with the Hillary button, mentioning that I assumed we’d both be voting for the same candidate come November.  She shook her head sadly again.

I walked back to my car, feeling downcast.  That’s what happens when you feel that your vote, in particular, has driven a stake right in the heart of the feminist movement you’ve believed in and supported for years.

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