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Did You Vote?

Voting had made a difficult day good. It had made this day an inspiring one.

“Aren’t you going to vote?” I asked a friend at the gym who was looking askance at a conversation a few of us were having about when we were going to get to our respective polling places that day, a busy Tuesday for all of us.

“No,” he said. “Politics has gotten so rotten and nasty, why bother? I can’t stand these guys.”

I certainly agree that the 24-hour news cycle can turn an election into a circus but still I find going to my polling place and exercising the right to vote, a right that so many have fought and died for, incredibly inspiring. Whatever the outcome, I think Election Day is one of the most inspiring days of the year. And filled with wonderful little inspiring stories.

Later, for instance, at my polling place I was greeted by an elderly poll worker who I have seen there for years checking off my name on the voter rolls. This year it was clear she was struggling and my guess is she’s developed Parkinson’s. It was almost painful to see her thumb her way through reams of registration forms looking for mine.

“Take your time, dear,” I said.

“Oh, I surely am!” she laughed.

It slowed the line down a bit but not even New Yorkers dared complain.

Retrieving my voting card I spotted Charlie, a retired Greyhound bus manager who lives in my building, manning the voting stations and answering any questions about the process. I pointed to his never-doffed Yankees cap and said, “Don’t they make you take that off in here? You’re supposed to be non-partisan.”

“Why? The Yankees ain’t running for anything and even if they did I don’t think they’d get a lot of votes considering how badly they played in the postseason.” He made a sour face and waved his hand in mock disgust.

I see Charlie every morning rain or shine at 5 a.m. in his inseparable cap standing at the gates of St. John’s waiting to be let in so he can help the priests get set up for early mass. There is a comfortable symmetry between Charlie’s volunteer duties at the polling place and his volunteer duties at church.

I filled out my ballot and fed it into the scanner under Charlie’s eye then started walking home a couple blocks away. It had been a very long hard day and I suppose I could have blown off voting too. But voting had made a difficult day good. It had made this day an inspiring one.

So did YOU vote? Don’t tell for whom. I just want to know how voting makes you feel.

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