There are these tempting things called absentee ballots, for starters. And I wanted to be sure to get my two cents in, delaying fog at SFO be damned. So I sent away for my ballot.
Since the days of Schoolhouse Rock I've been told that voting is a sacred right secret, private. And I never felt otherwise, really, not even in those little cardboard corrals. A bit undignified rushed maybe but nothing more.
But I have to say, there's nothing like voting in the privacy of your own home. You can take as long as you like. You can research ballot measures on the web. You can make sure you've had enough to eat and are in full possession of your faculties. You can sit there with your own pen, at your own desk, and drum your fingers, or pace, or look askance, and, um ... vote for Ralph Nader? And feel good about it? Really good? Better than voting for Clinton (the first time, as opposed to the second which made me feel greasy)? Wow.
I'm not a huge Green party fan. I can sigh and roll my eyes and repeat along with whomever, "A vote for Nader is a vote for Bush." I can even laugh when my best friend, only half in jest, asks if I've "turned into a Communist or something." And I can smile and nod and listen to people who say it's not the right time to vote for a third-party candidate. Who say to wait until the next election. Because I decided that waiting for the right time isn't always the right thing to do. And damn, did it feel great.
It's not just because I'm leaving. I'll be back some time during the next four years, and, while page 4 of any U.S. passport pretty much gives you detailed instructions on how to defect, I don't plan on it (although I did cut up my ballot stub to write addresses on in my luggage tags. Quel horreur). Like it or not, this is my country. But this is the first time I've smiled, and laughed with joy, after casting a ballot. And I don't think it's just because we have the freedom to vote, or because I was sitting at home when I did.