As I sit at home on Election night 2012, eagerly awaiting both the returns and the get-together I’m heading to soon, I’ve had a chance to reflect on the voting process.
Proponents of democracy will tell you that it’s easy to vote. In one sense, that’s true. We’re pretty efficient at registering voters, educating voters about their polling places, and providing technology to make voting quick. (Given, of course, that the lines move quickly and the machines function properly!) The action of marking a ballot on election day has become so much more streamlined that it must have been throughout our nation’s history.
I, however, don’t believe voting is that easy. Being an informed voter takes work; it takes commitment to knowing the candidates, the issues and the positions. It requires knowing yourself very well. I realize that voting has much to do with a person’s individuality.
My vote reflects what has happened to me in the past. It reflects the way I was brought up, what I was taught about in school, and what was talked about in my church and community. It reflects the ways in which I have been affected by existing legislation. It reflects my previous experiences with politics and the political system.
My vote also reflects who I am today. I have to ask myself: What issues are important to me right now? Which issues affect me most? How do I take others into consideration when making my decisions? How have my opinions developed and changed, and how does this affect my stance on certain issues? How do my current social, educational and economic circumstances play a role in how I vote?
Perhaps most difficult is considering how the future will shape my vote today. I have to try to analyze what could change should one candidate win over another. I have to think about where I might be in a few months or a few years. I have to imagine how my future circumstances might play a role in today’s decision.
Voting is difficult. I think it requires a deeper knowledge of self than most people might think. This is why I’m not afraid to sit down tonight with others who may not have voted the same way I did. I can respect the multitude of factors that went into making their decisions and perhaps understand why they voted the way they did. I’m grateful that I have the opportunity to navigate this complicated process, and to watch other voters do the same as well.