Ever since I could remember, my parents always taught me the importance of speaking up and how that has the power to change the world. This lesson learned in my early childhood was part of why I value voting so much, it gives me a platform to voice my ideologies and beliefs and a way to change my world. When I finally become eighteen, I could not help but to be excited to vote. The way I saw it, although my parents could not vote, they steered me in the direction of helping me create a better world for both me and them.
Early voting was the most convenient option for me because I was was able to vote at any voting site so I found out that there was one near my school and grabbed my passport, voter registration card, my voter registration receipt, and headed out after my class. One of the things that makes Texas one of the states that makes it so hard to vote is their “you have to have a valid ID in order to vote” requirement. Although I did not have a regular state ID or a license, I had a passport. The only thing I was worried about was the ID not being accepted but I could easily check and see if that was the case. A little piece of advice so you won’t freak out about having an invalid ID is check whatever acceptable form of ID your state requires, and check that it is not expired or invalid.
The day I chose to go was on Halloween and I, like any other cool person on Halloween would do, dressed up. If you’ve watched Naruto for some time, you know there is this amazingly cute character named Rock Lee. Because that is one of my favorite characters and I just so happened to have everything he wore, I dressed up as him and it was pretty iconic because his outfit consists of a green leotard and some bright orange leg warmers. I got a lot of stares because of my costume but that just added to the whole first time voting experience.
One of the things many people are slightly concerned about is the long lines at voting sites. Fortunately for my friends and I, the line was not long at all and as soon as we walked in, we were able to step into the voting room. I credit this to it being the middle of the day and it being an early voting site but either way, it was fast and efficient.
Now, I wouldn’t say voting is hard but there were some things that kind of made me take a while. For one thing, the machines used to vote are kind of difficult to navigate. Initially, I thought it was a touch screen friendly machine but after three minutes of me poking the screen and waiting for something to happen, I figured that this was not the case. The buttons used to select an option looked like washing machine buttons and it was kind of frustrating to use, especially because I had to go over 16 pages full of choices to make. When you first start the process of voting, you have an option to cast a straight ballot, meaning, if you lean towards one party more than the other, you can select that party and your votes will automatically go to that party’s nominee. The machine allows you to change your choice whenever you look over your ballot in case you do not want to vote for that party’s nominee. After hearing about how votes were being switched in Texas, I triple checked my ballot before submitting to make sure I had chosen the people I wanted. Because it was more difficult to navigate, the whole process took me about 10 to 15 minutes in total.
The thing I was most excited about voting on was the Senate race because my boy Beto is running and I love his campaign. Although Ted Cruz is ahead in the race according to polls, I have hope Beto O’rourke will win. I recall a comment made by my friend saying something along the lines of “polls are partially unreliable, due to the fact that these midterms will most likely have many young voters participating. Many young voters do not take part in polls so a percentage of votes are not represented in polls.” My hope is that this is the case for the Texas senate race because I firmly believe Beto deserves and has a chance to win.
The last thing voting administrators who go over your identification and voting card say before they let you go into a voting booth is, “you know you have submitted your ballot after you see the American flag wave across your screen.”
When I finally cast my ballot, I saw my faint reflection in the machines screen, as an American flag waved across it. Finally, I had fulfilled one of my childhood dreams and I remembered that I was able to overcome the frustrations that I felt during the 2016 presidential elections by voting. Voting has the power to change our future for the better so if you have not yet voted, make sure to line up at your local voting sites on November 6th!