{ i voted 2000 }

Learning the Process
Greg Knauss

I'm standing in a tattered soft-wood-and-pressboard booth and I'm fumbling things. I've got my practice ballot, marked with choices; my actual ballot, slid into its gray envelope; and my twenty-one month old son, Tom.

Tom is curious and friendly and adventurous and everything you'd ever want in a boy, save the day that you need him to sit still for three minutes while you jab holes in a piece of paper to help decide the fate of the world. I plop him on the floor, hand him a small wooden locomotive I unexpectedly find in my pocket and set to voting. I slide the ballot into the slot, punch my first choice – the big one, President – and catch a glimpse of tiny feet crawling under the booth partition and out of sight.

"Tom!" I yelp.

A voice from the next booth says, "Hello" and there's my son's unmistakable a laugh. I lunge around the corner and scoop him up in my arms and I apologize to the woman who is standing there and she laughs, too.

And the vague, buoyant cheer is infectious. It's something about voting. This woman, this anonymous woman – who I might completely disagree with, who might just as easily deride my choices – and I are so caught up in the tiny civic pleasure of making our voices heard that we smile and laugh and look around at our neighbors and say, "This is pretty cool." For all the bile that politics brings out in people, for all the endless attacks and sniping and mean-spiritedness, for everything that's wrong with the process, there's still the simple happiness of gathering together and taking part.

I plant my son on my hip and head back to my booth and Tom peeks over my shoulder and waves a small goodbye.

{ next }

{*} Gimme a "V"!
Lance Arthur
{*} We Are the Ones
Rebecca Blood
{*} My Vote Doesn't Count
Sarah Bruner
{*} Close Encounters
Heather Champ
{*} A Message
John Hodgman
{*} The Score
David Hudson
{*} Greg Knauss lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two sons. Their house is very, very messy.
{*} Dreaming of Greener Pastures
Dori Mondon
{*} Three Scenes
Derek M. Powazek
{*} Absentee
Magdalen Powers
{*} Acts of Faith and Finger Foods
Adam Rakunas
{*} Resident
Luke Seemann
{*} More Than One Vote
Tarin Towers
{*} The Poster Wars
Shauna Wright

Did you vote?