I remember going with my mother to the North Palm Beach Elementary School cafetorium (yes, that’s what it was called) in the 1960s so that she could cast her vote. I had to stand right outside the curtains of the voting booth while she did whatever mysterious things were involved in voting. I looked forward to the day when I, too, could disappear behind the curtain and, like the Wizard of Oz, flip and pull levers and switches and magically tell the world who I thought would do a better job in an elected office.
I turned 18 right after the presidential election when Jimmy Carter defeated Gerald Ford. I didn’t get the chance to vote in a presidential election until 1980 when Reagan defeated Carter. I was disappointed that the curtained booths had disappeared somewhere between the 60s and the 80s. Plastic dividers lined three sides of a high table and one leaned in and punched holes in the paper opposite the candidate of our choice. Twenty years later, the hole punching and the infamous butterfly ballot became an issue during the Bush/Gore election when the hanging chads threw vote counts off.
These days, we take a black pen and connect the end of an arrow with the beginning of an arrow. It doesn’t feel mysterious or impressive to me—feels more like a kindergarten coloring class. But the decisions made are far more important than who to sit next to at lunch or play with at recess.
I suppose at some time in the future, voting will involve a touch video screen and candidate’s faces. As for me, I’ll head to the polls this year, same as every year since I was eligible. Regardless of your party affiliation or who you support, I hope you do, too.
Wonder if they’ll let us bring our own curtains?