Today was the first day of early voting in Nashville. Because Tennessee would not accept COVID as as acceptable reason to receive a mail in ballot, I was committed to voting in person not matter what. When I was a block from the early voting location, I could not believe what I was seeing. Though the polls did not open for another 10 minutes, the parking lot was full, cars lined the streets and there was a line of people. A long line that extended past the building and wound around the paved path in the park next to the library. I have been early voting at this library for years and have never seen a line extend out of the building.
I was thrilled to make my way around all of the masked, socially distanced people in line. Some kind souls were directing us new arrivals to the end of the line. Like myself, most people were surprised by the size of the crowd, but there was an energy, a vibration from all of us gathered outdoors on this cool, early fall morning. I saw very few people leave. We were there to vote and we were surprised and happy to see how many others were there to vote. I teared up walking to my place at the end of the line. I was proud to be in that line with so many other Nashvillians. I felt a surge of hope and patriotism. THIS is what being a citizen is all about. This is my opportunity to have my voice heard and to elect who I want to represent me in my government.
Voting is a right that has been fought for and throughout the history of this country. This summer Tennessee celebrated it’s 100thanniversary of being the 36th state to ratify the 19th amendment to give women the right to vote. The fight is not over with current attempts to suppress voters by closing polling places, limiting mail in voting, tinkering with the postal service, identification requirements and removing people from voter rolls.
I was in line for an hour and a half before I voted. The crowd energy was very positive. It seemed like everyone was happy a proud to be there. As we made our way into the library to wind through the stacks by moving to the next 6-foot marker, the people around me and I started to talk and find common interested: National Parks, hiking adventures, where we work, mutual acquaintances, children, schools and random books on the shelves. Who was on the ballot was never mentioned. The polling staff was wonderful and kept everything moving. Voting was easy.
There was still a long line outside when I left. I felt full of hope. Hope the lines continue. Hope for record turnout. Hope that you vote. Hope for the best for the United States. Hope we show the world our best.