You move to a different neighborhood and make the adjustments to the new area. Voting is one of the best ways to feel like you are a part of where you live.
Last summer, my wife, one-year-old daughter, and I moved to a suburb further out from the city. I’m very much a city person that loves public transit and dense living. It’s been a bit of an adjustment for me living in your typical suburb. Thankfully, our town (or “Village” as Glen Ellyn likes to call it) has a nice downtown. And we live walking distance from all the shops and train station.
Today, I walked to our polling place in the village’s town hall, voted, and then hopped on a train to downtown Chicago.
At every place I’ve lived, voting makes me feel more connected to the area. All the local candidates that you vote for makes you feel like you have a say what happens locally.
Most times when we vote, the focus is on the national or state races. Those are all very important. But those local races are the ones that are more intimate. Before voting, I research the candidates through the local papers’ websites. Again—connection to the local area.
When it comes time to vote, I have my mock ballot with all my candidates marked. I feel confident. I feel connected.
Plus, voting gets you access into areas where you normally might not go. For me it was our village hall. I’ve never stepped foot in there. I guess I could have, but I never had any reason to. In other neighborhoods I’ve voted in churches, school gyms, and school hallways. You wait in line with your fellow community neighbors. All doing the same thing. Voting. United. Expressing our voice.
I’m glad to wear my “I voted today” sticker. In fact, this is the first time I ever got a sticker for voting! My entire life I’ve voted in Cook County where all they give out is a scrap of laser-printed paper. No sticker. [Oops. Correction. I lived in Oak Park for a couple years, that is part of Cook County. They gave out “I voted” stickers in Oak Park. It was just Chicago that gave out the scraps of paper.]
As I slid my paper voting ballot into the machine, I didn’t even wait for it to slide through. I immediately turned to the man handing out the stickers to get mine. Yaaaay!
I almost didn’t get a chance to vote! The polling place asked to see my drivers license. They gave me a little bit of grief for having my old address on my drivers license. Even though I am registered to vote at my new address. Technically, I believe it’s not required to show my ID in the first place–if I’m registered at my current address–which I am. The woman at the counter got confused.
I felt like I was going to get kicked out. While waiting for the approval to vote, the thought did run through my head that I don’t belong here.
Thankfully, they let me vote. And they let me feel like I belong.