The Grumpy, But Grateful Voter

I didn’t get a sticker. But it’s ok.

I had what I’m pretty sure was a migraine this morning. It wasn’t so bad that I left work, but bad enough that I was planning my escape if the nausea, dizziness and throbbing pain took a turn for the worse. A few ibuprofen, and a chicken soup delivered by my coworker, The Ninja, helped a lot. The waves of nausea and pain came and went all afternoon, but each crest, while still pretty uncomfortable, was lower than the previous one.

By 4pm I started to feel the exhaustion that follows a migraine. It was around that time that I started hearing rumors of 2 hour waits at my polling place, which, with the way I was feeling, filled me with dread.

The rumors were true. A few people I know waited over 2 hours. At least one person I know had to give up, heartbroken after 2 attempts with two young children in tow. It was her first time ever missing an election. It would be one thing if the 2 hour wait was expected, but it wasn’t. People didn’t know to plan accordingly.

And yes, I’m complaining. I’m grumpy. And I suppose if I was feeling better physically, I might feel differently about the situation. But maybe not. Shouldn’t this process be easier and more accessible for everyone than it was tonight? Won’t lines like this discourage people from voting next time? As I write this, at 9pm, there are 600 people waiting to vote at a polling station in Providence. Most have families to take care of, I’m sure. And jobs in the morning. What must they be thinking?

That said, I’m still grateful. I know waiting 2 hours, even 4 hours in line is nothing compared to what citizens of other countries go through to exercise their right to vote. That is, if they even have that right. I walked 10 minutes to my polling place, not 10 miles, or 10 days.

I take heart in the fact that, in our country, something like this won’t get swept under the rug. We won’t let it. And something will change because of our ability to voice our opinions, to petition, to gather, and to have access to our chosen leaders. I know it’s not a perfect system or government. But we are still lucky, and I never forget that, even when grumpy and complaining.

For some reason, my wait tonight was minimal because I got there just as they were letting the “R-Z’s” in. I had a ballot in my hand within 20 minutes, but I know some people who got there before me had been waiting over an hour. And were still waiting when I left. I felt bad about how quickly I got through, not glad, but what could I do? No one said much. The mood was a little tense, but civil, and quiet.

When I handed over my license to obtain my ballot, I felt even worse. The volunteer who took it looked tired, and overwhelmed. Like she didn’t sign up for the chaos. Like she didn’t want to be there. Like she needed a glass of wine. I made a point to smile at her, and thank her. She didn’t smile back, just nodded and her eyes moved to the person in line behind me.

Maybe it was the post migraine haze, but my visit there left me a little emotional. Something about the tension of the voters, and the exhaustion of the volunteers got to me. It was just very clear that everyone was determined to make it happen, regardless of the fact that it was poorly planned, and somewhat stressful.

I walked the long way home, in the cold, and counted some blessings. It’s now 9:30, and I’m still a bit grumpy. But hot soup and cheesy toast is in my near future, and I’m planting myself on the couch, under a blanket, in front of the TV as soon as I’m done writing this. I’m so tired, but you bet your ass I’m staying up as late as I can to see the results.

More Food, Less Pain,

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