My first election was the U.S. presidential election of 2016. Yeah, I was off to a pretty bad start.
I voted using a mail-in ballot, as many people my age do. College students by and large seem to prefer using mail-in ballots because getting themselves re-registered in their current residence can be a hassle. I’m just going to move again as soon as I graduate, so why register myself in an essentially temporary residence?
It was about what I expected. I got a sheet of paper, I filled in some boxes like I was taking a standardized test and I mailed it off to people who I assumed would take care of it before it was too late.
That felt a little impersonal, though. It’s not just me, is it? You don’t get to hear results for your choice until weeks later, and you also don’t get to wear a sticker on Election Day like all the cool old people — unless you remember to save it for later.
In the 2018 midterm elections, I decided I would mix things up a little bit. My parents had moved (again), so I figured I should re-register anyway just to have a mailing address. More than that, though, I wanted to feel like I was an adult taking the civic wellbeing of Manhattan into my own hands.
I entered my polling place on Tuesday as soon as my classes were over for the day. It was a community church with uniquely curvy architecture — Protestant, though, so of course my Catholic behind had never been in there before.
Based on what I’d heard, I was expecting a line at least half a DMV long with lots of angry senior citizens telling me to write in Ronald Reagan for every position. Fortunately, that couldn’t have been further from the truth.
I was greeted by incredibly friendly staff, young and old, and they honestly seemed pretty happy that I was willing to perform my civic duty on a Tuesday. Even my fellow voters seemed pretty pleased to be there.
Mail-in ballots are convenient and all, but there’s really nothing quite like having someone’s grandpa explain how to operate a voting machine in his raspy voice.
So sure, I understand why people vote early using the power of the U.S. Postal Service. It’s an option that absolutely should exist for the good of our country.
But if you have options, I’d recommend trying out the polls for the next presidential election. Who knows what cool stuff you’ll see when you go outside?
Kyle Hampel is a community editor for the Collegian and a senior in English. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.