Tuesday, November 6th, 2012
The first time I voted was by absentee ballot when I was in college.
I was thinking about that at 7:15 this morning while I was standing in line at our polling place–thinking about voting the first time. Out of about 30 people waiting, I’d guess at least 20 were Somalis. Or rather, I should say they are Somali-background Americans, exercising their right to vote. Some were young enough to have been born here, but most looked old enough to have come here as refugees, so they’ve been naturalized as American citizens.
Many of the people waiting ahead of us were directed to the table where they could register, which means this was their first time voting in Minnesota.
Just imagine, I thought, how different this is than anything they’ve experienced. First of all, there is an election–there are ballot choices, not a dictator as the only name that everyone must “choose.” Beyond that, there is no fear of being attacked entering or exiting the polling place. There’s an expectation of a fair count, even if it should involve recount and vituperation. And if history is any clue, there’ll be a peaceful transfer of leadership–no fighting in the streets, no civil war, no burning and looting.
I’m not a political person. And I don’t think America is the savior of the world. But today I was thankful.
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