She was heading up the steps slowly but surely. Although we were going to the same place, we came from different places. I suspect that she had been voting before the Voting Rights Act of 1965 assured that she could vote and that her vote would count. I’ve never had to worry about that. I rushed to get the door for her so she wouldn’t have to worry about holding a heavy door open. As I was holding the door, a young adult came bounding up the steps. I kept the door open for him and as he passed he smiled and said, “It’s my first time.”
We were early voting. By many accounts more and more people are taking advantage of early voting. Perhaps we don’t want to wait in long lines on Election Day. I suspect many just want to get it over with. Cast our vote and then wash the dirt and grime of this campaign season off of our collective selves.
As we lined up, they handed us the early voting form to fill out. My friend who had come in with me was looking over her form with a confused look on her face. The gentleman in front of her turned and offered to help. I overheard him talking with her about his path to vote, sharing that this was his second presidential election since becoming a citizen in 2010. A police officer who was watching over the proceedings (no Russians or alt-right poll watchers thank God) helped another man towards the back of the line with his form; apparently he had forgotten his glasses.
As we all made our way into the large gym with the voting booths and registration records, the poll workers could not have been friendlier. They checked people in with ease and a respect not often seen during this campaign season. Two shouts of “we have a first time voter” rang out. Everyone stopped what they were doing and cheered. I headed to my voting booth while absorbing the scene around me. There were probably fifteen folks in the booths. Different in age, gender, ethnicity, and likely in a thousand other ways that one can’t tell on the surface. Each of us probably had experienced life in American in a different way. I am certain there were different choices for President, although I am certain everyone voted no on Amendment 1.
In the midst of such an ugly and disheartening election season, the act of voting was anything but ugly and disheartening. It was a holy moment, a glimpse of grace. It was a reminder not only of what makes this country great now, but a glimpse of how we can become even greater for all people. Who would have thought that grace would show up at the polling place?
As I walked out, proudly wearing my “I’m a Georgia voter” sticker, my first time voter friend held the door open for me. People were getting back in their cars while others were just getting out. I thought to myself, ‘America, we might just make it yet. It’s going to be all good.”
One thought on “Grace at the Polling Place”
I always feel a little weepy when I vote – and you nailed the reason why. It is a beautiful moment of grace among the citizenry of the USA. Thank you for that reminder, especially in this very difficult election year.