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By Stacey Manning
OK, since it’s over, I can admit it. Throughout this election season, I was one of those voters who didn’t know exactly what buttons I was going to push on the voter screen.
I’ve heard conversations about it in my office, on television and in the general public.
“How could you not know?” people asked.
The reason I didn’t know early was because I wanted to know as much as I could before making a final decision. When coworkers and others headed off for early voting, I was still trying to figure it out.
Which candidates shared most of the same opinions about important fiscal and social issues as I did? And how the heck would I decide who to vote onto the court of appeals when, as still a relative newcomer to North Carolina, I knew little if anything about those on the list?
I had no intention of voting down party lines. I refuse to click a box just because a person and I happen to be of the same political affiliation. And, the truth is, my opinions sometimes push to the liberal side and sometimes to the more conservative. How can a person be both? I just am, depending on the issue. I certainly can’t be sliced off into one piece of the political pie, and that makes voting all the more difficult. The pros and cons of each candidate had me spinning in circles.
At times, I considered leaving certain parts of the ballot blank, not out of political apathy, but instead I was afraid of making the wrong decision. The weight of one vote had never weighed more heavily on my shoulders. What if everything about the future of this community, this nation, filtered down to the choice I made? Could I do that with confidence?
To ease my fears, I turned to the Internet, reading through candidate Web sites, searching for their stances on important issues like taxes, illegal immigration, the military, the economy, healthcare and more. I looked up endorsements and tried to figure out which supporting organizations shared similar views as mine.
It wasn’t quick and it wasn’t easy. By the time I felt ready, early voting had come and gone and then it was Election Day.
Voting on Election Day—something about that just felt right. It felt patriotic to do it as an informed voter.
I timed my approach just right and showed up at my local polling station just after the morning lines died down and before lunch lines picked up.
When I stared at the screen, I knew exactly which buttons I wanted to push.
After confirming my vote, I walked away feeling like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders.
I headed back toward the office anxiously wanting the day to speed by so I could hear the results, but before I left I had one more thing to do.
I stopped by one of the poll workers’ tables.
“Do you have stickers?” I asked, beaming.
I couldn’t wait to adhere the “I voted” sticker to my shirt for all to see.
Sadly, there were none, although several other voters had asked the same thing. I left a bit disappointed for not being given a well-earned badge, but was content I had done the right thing.