Election Day Gratitude

I'm a Georgia VoterI took my toddler to vote for the first time today. But that wasn’t the only novelty of our trip to the polls today — it was the first time in nearly a decade that I’ve come face to face with an American ballot box.

For the past eight years, I have been voting by absentee ballot from London, so I had forgotten just how grateful campaign volunteers are for voters.

A truck covered with campaign signs and bumper stickers drove by as we left the polling station. People leaned out and shouted, “Thanks for voting!” even though they had no idea whether or not I had voted for their candidate — or even if I had voted at all.

I could have just been loitering with my kid outside the polling station, which was also a school, so that would not have been unusual.

The poll volunteers handed out free “Georgia Voter” stickers to adults and children. And they all smiled and told me how wise I was to introduce a little one to the practice of voting.

Of course, who enjoys pushing buttons more than a toddler? Choosing city councillors, judges and a mayor by touching a computer screen provided us with several minutes of entertainment, if not a lifelong commitment to civic duty.

As dual British/American citizens, my kids will be able to vote in not one, but two national elections. Last year, I was in awe of my newfound ability to cast ballots in London’s mayoral race, the US primaries and of course, the all-important presidential election, all in 2008.

Before I became a British citizen, I couldn’t vote in local elections — but of course, I was required to pay taxes (I learned why taxation without representation was so very irritating to the colonial settlers).

Now my British husband has to bear the burden of paying taxes to a local government he can’t elect. He will have to walk by the polling station, his shirt empty of the “Georgia Voter” sticker, without a single “thank you for voting” shout out ringing in his ears.

But when the UK elections roll round, I’m sure he’ll be pleased for an opportunity to cast a ballot in a hotly contested race for Prime Minister, long after the local election hoopla in Atlanta has died down.

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