It felt good to vote. Too bad more of our citizens don’t exercise their right to contribute a voice in determining who is going to represent us in government. People in other lands would give their eye teeth to have an opportunity to vote in an election… any election… even a rigged one!

We complain about our government the way we complain about the weather. But there is a difference. We can do nothing about the weather; but we can do something about our government. And for every person who takes the small step and registers to vote, and then steps into the polling place, in a very important way, that person takes a step in making this a better Country.

It goes beyond being our right to vote. It is our responsibility to vote… to help shape our government.

Perhaps you remember this slogan: “Love our Country, or leave it!” Maybe try this one on for size: “On Election Day, Vote… or pack your bags and move to a place where you can’t!”

That’s enough of that. I’ll surrender the soap box to more articulate and capable voices.

Take a step thru the political hoopla… the barrage of TV commercials, nightly calls from Party ‘foot soldiers’, political junk mail galore… there still exists the beauty of the neighborhood and the town that flowers on Election Day.

I saw this in Norwalk all the years I lived there. And I saw this in Woodbury, where I cast my vote this past Tuesday. First, let me point out… by nature I am a morning person. Always have been. As a morning person I vote as early as possible. If the polls opened at 3:00AM I’d be there. Not to make a statement about being first in line or something. It’s because I like to see the volunteers fresh in their routines… and to enjoy the faces of like minded voters who prefer to get things done early.

I got to Mitchell Elementary School a few minutes before 6:00AM (usually Woodbury votes in Town Hall; but if they expect a big turn out… it moves to Mitchell). I liked that there was less activity around the polling place. In Norwalk there would have been candidates and Party workers handing out stuff, shaking hands and the like… of course this all would take place outside the 25 yards from the polling place required by law (or whatever the distance).

But regardless of the Town (or neighborhood), the volunteers who man the polling station are of a similar stripe. The League of Women Voters (or Brothers of the Ballot) are recruited from the ranks of the retired or soon to be retired.

There is an ease to their appearance that is totally comforting. Men in dark slacks, plaid L.L. Bean shirts… ladies in pants suits and contrasting cardigan sweaters.

Although there is a volunteer’s hospitality table with hot drinks and donuts, they bring, depending on shift, their own thermos bottles of soup or coffee… water bottles and a handful of hard sucking candies. They have a look of pleasant familiarity… their focus is on their civic duty.

Peel back the years, 50 in number say, and they were the ones who worked tireously (and without thanks) on the prom committee. You have the sense that they have been in the Town, or neighborhood, forever… that they know everybody… And if there is a strange Camry parked in front of Missy Stengl’s overnight, they know it. And now you do, too.

I am #6 in line. When I get to the table for Streets “M” to “W” there are two women seated there, and a third woman seated in a table behind. I assume that the two women in front are representatives of the major Parties, and they are there to see that the other Party does not engage in “funny stuff.”

I give my name and address, produce my driver’s license to confirm my identity… my name is located on the computer roster, crossed from the list and one of them says “408”…This is for the benefit of the third lady sitting at the table in back. I don’t know what the hell she is doing… but she so notes it. Nor do I know why I am “408”. Maybe they keep track of Democrats in Woodbury. Anyway, privately I think I deserve a higher number… or a lower number, if that’s better.

Having established that I was who I said I was to the satisfaction of all 3 election officials, I was permitted to enter one of the voting booths. Each booth was supervised by yet another volunteer.

No men are trusted to the tables. Never in all my years of voting have I ever seen a man on the tables. Booth supervisors, yes. Tables, no. Maybe retired men have circulation problems if they remained seated for too long. Or maybe this is a form of cruel gender discrimination… we make the men stand for four hour shifts. Men… or women who we don’t like… Like women who have strange Camry’s parked in front of their houses overnight.

I glance left and right… each guardian taking ownership for his or her booth… each proffering a nod and smile as a voter enters the curtained booth. I vote in good order, and when done I emerge from the booth refreshed and voted.

I am now greeted by my “guardian”… on this occasion it’s a woman (maybe she should tell the Camry to park down the street and then she would get promoted to a table)… she gives me a sticker “I have voted today”.

She gives me a smile. A smile that I treasure. I don’t care who parks in front of her house. I feel good.

I have voted. I feel a part of a community. It ain’t much, and yet it’s a whole lot.

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