I took Finn with me to vote this week.
In the car on the way I was trying to explain the concept to him.
“It’s like being asked to raise your hand if you want something,” I said. “Except everyone in the State is being asked who we want for President. We can’t see each other’s hands so we have to write down who we want.” (I’ll let his uncle Brad explain the whole delegate and electoral college thing some day.)
“Raise your hand?” he asked.
“You know,” I said, “like when you’re at a party and somebody comes in and says ‘Who wants a cupcake?’ and you raise your hand?” I knew it was a bad example the moment the words left my mouth.
“Ooo I want a cupcake!” he said.
It took the rest of the trip to explain why we were not going to have a cupcake right then. Sometimes I’m good at explaining things, other times not.
We arrived at the polling place, which was thankfully in a fire station. If there’s one thing that can get his mind off a cupcake it’s a fire engine.
As we peeked in the windows at the trucks I wondered how much of this he would remember. I have vivid memories of my Mom taking me to vote when I was a kid, into the big metal booths with curtains. She would let me click the levers and when we were done we would pull the long handle and the curtains opened automatically. I suppose those are still around.
The electronic voting machines don’t instill as much confidence for me. On my home computer I’ve seen the message “File may have been lost” a few too many times. I love how it always says ‘may have’ as if it’s still looking for the file. Will it ever flash a message that says “I was wrong, I found it?”
You trust when you vote. You trust the candidate (to some degree), the people at the polling place, and the machines.
There has been a lot in the news about voter suppression, which causes people to say, “See it’s rigged, there’s no point in voting.” And that’s exactly what it’s designed to do.
But for as many people who are trying to rig elections I know there are just as many who have made it their calling to insure the integrity of our voting system. It’s those people we are putting our trust in when we pull the lever, punch the card, fill in the oval, or tap the screen.
Will the system ever be perfect? Probably not. But when we make our voices heard, it’s more difficult to suppress a million votes than a few hundred.
“Do YOU want to be President?” Finn said.
“No, I do not,” I said emphatically.
“Can I be president?” he asked.
“If you really want to,” I said.
“Ok,” he said. “I’ll be president and you can do the voting.”
That I would trust.