Skip to main content

NOTICE: The Charter Vision project is dormant as of January 2008. This website is provided for archival purposes only.

The First Vote Cast

Rose (Grade 12 / Northfield School of Arts and Technology) Posted February 15 2007

Editor’s note: Rose Card is a senior at Northfield School of Arts and Technology (ARTECH) and a member of Charter Vision’s student editorial board. The illustration featured on the home page and at the bottom of this page was also drawn by her.

I’d never been politically inclined. I knew the name of our president, vice president, and a few other figures that graced our news programs; but apart from that, I was clueless. Not just clueless — apathetic. As long as I had my music and my friends, I was fine. I didn’t need to concern myself with government. But when I realized that my voice could make a difference, I became convinced that I needed to reconsider.

“So who are you going to vote for?” I was asked by a schoolmate when he heard that I’d recently turned 18. It wasn’t long before Election Day and I hadn’t thought about this. I wasn’t planning on voting at all. I didn’t know anything about any of the candidates, I didn’t know what our current governor was like, and I didn’t even know where I would vote if I decided to. My peer was upset when I told him this and immediately started telling me what I would need to know to be an informed voter. I was sent links to campaign sites, shown interviews of the candidates, and was graced with long opinionated talks about certain more eccentric contenders. I was intrigued.

I found that instead of being bored by topics I didn’t relate to, the candidates talked about issues that hit closer to home. Equal-rights marriage, education, and healthcare were all topics of discussion. I discovered that having an opinion about these matters was not only responsible, but gratifying as well. I started feeling that I knew what was going on in the big scheme of things instead of just being along for the ride. By opening the doors to politics, my friend had helped me see that I have a right to be heard: a right that I could exercise by the simple act of voting.

Armed with my newfound knowledge, I was ready to hit the polls. I went to our town hall: a small, ancient farmhouse miles from any real city, and started the registration process. The wooden floors of the hall squeaked as I sat in a simple fold-up chair. As I filled in the lines of the form, all around me were conversations about so-and-so’s new baby, Thanksgiving plans, and — of course — talk about the weather. After I had scribbled out the first form, I finally had written down all the information that was necessary and got in line behind all of the other resident voters. There were farmers, business men, little old ladies, and other first-time voters all waiting to give their two cents to our government — locally and nationally. The curtained stalls loomed closer and it was finally my turn to fill out a ballot. Even though the dots to bubble in were a little daunting, I painstakingly penciled in my choices and exited the booth with a sigh of relief. My dad shot me a smile as I fed my paper to the official counting machine and we walked out, with a feeling of accomplishment following me all the way home. I sipped the coffee I had been given at the town hall and reveled in the fact that a person doesn’t need to be a radical to make a difference. I hadn’t needed to rally, make picket signs, or support some extreme movement. I only had to pick up a pencil.

Although not all those for whom I voted got the seats they were seeking, I was left with a feeling of contentment. I knew that I had said my piece and had done what was responsible. Taking a few minutes out of my day had given me the opportunity to say officially that I had a role in deciding my country’s future — for better or worse. I realize that I’ve often heard from other people my age that their opinion isn’t relevant; that no matter what they say, the world at large won’t change; and that they don’t think one solitary vote could make a difference. Consider voting the time that your opinion is guaranteed to be noted. Lawfully, your voice will be heard. Your vote counts every time: take advantage of it.

The First Vote Cast Illustration

Comments are closed.