I turned eighteen in the winter of my senior year of high school. My civics teacher kept a stack of voter registration forms in his classroom, and I proudly filled one out the week of my birthday, even though it would be several months until the next election, a gubernatorial primary.
I remember getting that first election booklet in the mail. I remember scrutinizing all the candidates' statements and carefully marking up my sample ballot.
I went with my dad to the polls the evening of the election. He proudly told the poll worker that this was my first time voting. She gave me her congratulations.
I copied my choices from my sample ballot onto the real one and turned it in. I wore my cheerful "I voted!" sticker the rest of the night.
Ten years later, I have never missed an election.
My parents still check in with me to see if I voted. My politics are quite different from theirs and, quite honestly, my dad and I could both stay home on election day for the same net effect. But we all believe that it's so important to go out and vote.
And it is important.
Gary Kreep, an extreme right-wing attorney and birther extraordinaire, ran this year for a position as a superior court judge in California. At the end of election day, he was winning over his opponent Garland Peed by 56 votes. With fewer than half of the absentee votes counted, Peed now leads Kreep by just over a thousand votes, 50.18% to 49.83%.
It is still too close to call the race.
A few tenths of a percent will decide this race. On election day, it was less than a hundred votes difference.
Your vote matters. Use it.
(Ed blogged about the Kreep/Peed race, though he mistook election day results as final.)