I am proud to say that for the 20th time, I voted today. I’ve voted in every election, major or minor and most primaries, since I was 18 years old. Through college, I voted absentee ballot. In 2000, I voted in a state that used punch card ballots (hello, hanging chad) and today, in the year 2013, I voted using a paper ballot akin to a scantron sheet (Anyone remember those? Do they even still use those in school? Am I totally dating myself?). In spite of the chill in the air, I took the opportunity to make the 1.1 mile trek to my polling place, accompanied by my newest witness to the democratic process…guess you could say I got some exercise on the way to exercising my rights.
There are quite a few people that I know who only vote every four years in presidential elections. I’m also aware that in some municipalities there aren’t elections every year. But here in the Commonwealth of Virginia, we’re blessed (cursed) with something on the ballot each and every year. The year following a presidential election is always our gubernatorial race. In Virginia the appointment is one term, which has its pros and its cons. On one hand, if the wrong candidate is chosen, they only have four years to screw it up. And you don’t have a governor who starts campaigning for reelection next halfway through his term. On the other hand, you really have to get into office and work to get things done, which can be easier said than done depending on the makeup of the house of delegates. Before you know it, your four years are up and you’re out the door.
While I typically don’t struggle with which side of the ballot I put my check marks on, this year I found myself not wanting to vote either individual into office. The recent government shutdown and all of the negative campaign ads left a bad taste in my mouth with regards to politicians. Makes me wonder if any of them have the best interests of their constituents at heart. But, as I have always felt, if you don’t vote, then you don’t have a right to complain about the way things are. I’ve had my voice heard. I’ve been counted. I voted.