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Opinion

November 10, 2012

Voting without the lever just isn't the same

I miss pulling the lever.

I was one of the few, the proud, the town of Milford residents who voted in Tuesday’s general election. I went down to the Portlandville Town Hall, filled out my paper ballot and fed it into the machine.

But I miss pulling the lever.

I remember going to vote with my mom when I was a little kid growing up in Oregon. My parents voted at the Grange hall next door to my elementary school.

On Election Day, my mom would drive me to school and I would go into the little booth. She would pull the curtain closed behind us, and I would stand, breathless and still, as she punched the ballot to mark her choices. I was in awe of the process, and looked forward eagerly to the day when I, too, would be able to step into a voting booth.

When I turned 18, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to vote in a presidential election year, as well as weighing in on a massive 23 ballot measures. My joy was tempered only slightly by the fact that I cast my first vote, as so many 18-year-olds do, by absentee ballot from 3,000 miles away. No matter; I was just happy to be voting.

I continued to vote absentee throughout college, still looking forward to being able to cast my vote in person. But while I was away at school, Oregon voters approved an initiative requiring everyone to vote by mail.

At the time, I thought it was a stupid idea. It seemed to take away all the fun, all the pomp and circumstance, of voting. I imagined my mom and dad heading down to the Grange hall, chatting with neighbors and friends - no longer. And I saw my own childhood dream of stepping into a voting booth fade away for good.

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