Some election years I carefully map out who I’m voting for and carefully research the issues long before the ballot is due. Other elections I rip open my ballot at 6:40 am on election day, shriek at how many things are are to vote for and start flipping frantically through the voters guide.
My first election was in 1992. I had turned 18 only a week or so before. I was able to register, even though my birthday was past the deadline, because I would be 18 by the time the election happened. I put off registering for a long time, mostly because I was afraid of voting. At that time, I thought I would have to carefully research each and every candidate or issue and come to firm conclusions so I could defend my choices when people asked my reasoning. It seemed like a really big deal.
Voting is a big deal. But it’s not quite the big deal I thought at 18. Some years, I come close to approximating how I thought voting would be. Other years, I make some decisions by moving the pencil back and forth between two candidates and then going with the one who didn’t push poll me. I follow politics in general, which I think is important for spur-of-the-moment voting, but this time I wasn’t super nuanced in my reasoning. I felt a bit frantic all day, but it felt very good to drop my ballot in the box.