I’m a traditionalist. I love to vote on election day. For 21 years I have gone to the polls with one or more of my children, starting when they were in strollers. This election is the first time they’ve been able to vote, rather than just observe (and listen to Mom’s lecture about democracy — again! — as we walked to the polls). I’m not sure who was more excited about that, Sophie or me (though we missed Sam, who is in Toronto). We were lined up with about 100 other people at our local elementary school in the dark before 7 am. It felt urgent. We had butterflies in our stomachs.
But, as in all previous elections, I was reminded of what a sense of community comes with voting. Strangers in the line smiled at each other and some chatted. When we got in to the gym, we met up with several neighbours we know well, a great way to start any work day. The poll officers seemed as excited as Sophie that she was getting to vote in person for the first time.
And that doesn’t count the volunteering. Both of my kids have volunteered long hours on this election for environmental NGOs. The inspiring students of UBCC350 were out at the university gates with a big “vote” sign at 7:30 am, having spent countless hours over the last weeks knocking on doors and talking to fellow students to encourage them to vote.
Voting is a solitary and necessarily private act, but the decision to vote is an expression of commitment to a community. And the act of voting can be wonderfully social. It feels good, a reminder that we are in this together. We need to find ways to acknowledge and celebrate that.