I always vote early. I hate crowds and lines and tons of people (I’m delightful, I know), so I go early. I went to my local library this past Friday to cast my ballot. And I waited. I stood in line for about 45 minutes before I even got in the building (which I know is nothing compared to what many people experienced this weekend). I waited in line with all kinds of people who decided that this election was important enough to show up and vote.
I waited in line with mamas who had babies sleeping on their chests and toddlers climbing up their legs. They looked tired and overwhelmed, and I know it would have been easier for them to stay home. But they came. I stood in line with people dressed for work, who had jobs to get to and meetings to prepare for and appointments to make. But they came. I stood in line with people who were much older than me and people who were voting in a presidential election for the very first time. I stood in line with people of different races and religions and backgrounds. As I waited, I overheard a conversation between the man standing behind me and an election official. The man, an elderly African-American gentleman wearing a U.S. Army Veteran vest, told the official that he had driven by earlier that week and had noticed there was no line. He said he thought about stopping but decided to come back later. The official assured him that the line moved quickly, and he wouldn’t have to wait much long to get inside. He replied, “Oh, it doesn’t bother me. I’m not complaining. I’ll wait all day to vote if I have to.”
As I stood there, a lump formed in my throat. I truly thought I might start sobbing right there outside the Durham Public Library. My heart was so heavy that I just couldn’t stand it anymore. The truth is this whole election still baffles me. How did we end up here? I thought about the people I was standing in line with—people who had been demeaned and belittled and discriminated against throughout this election because of the color of their skin or their gender or their religious beliefs. I thought about the hate and distrust that weighs on our country leaving us all bitter and angry and so incredibly tired. I thought about the genuine fear that exists for many who are considering the future of our country and the kind of world we’re leaving for our sons and daughters.
All this to say—I get it. I understand why so many people are saying they want to abstain from this election. I understand why people say that they can’t, in good conscience, vote for either candidate. But friends, please hear me say that it is too important. This election is too close and the stakes are too high for us to be silent. If you believe that neither candidate is the right choice for our country, then use your voice to vote for a third-party candidate and say that. Please vote. The choices are bleak, I know, but the choice is still ours.
I (still) voted because I have been given a voice and a choice. I can choose to use my voice to speak up for kindness and truth and hope or not. I can choose to use my voice to say that all people are valuable and worthy and equal or not. I can choose to use my voice for love or not. So I chose to use my voice. I hope that you will, too.