I waited 2hours and 10 minutes to vote. In 2020, even in the middle of a pandemic, there are still so many unnecessary hurdles to exercise one’s right to vote. I woke up at 6am, excited to vote, knowing that my vote may not make a difference in my state, but I still got ready, and left the house. By the time I stood in line, it was 6:30 am. Although the polls opened at 6am, we were not moving. In fact the line was at a standstill at 6:30am and growing.
Immediately I had to make a decision. To stay in line or go back home. To stay in line or return home to start the days activities with homeschooling. To stay in line or cancel my own lecture for doctoral students for the day. All these thoughts were running through my head because the lines were not moving. Then I thought about the pandemic, truth versus lies, health care, science versus fiction, morality, truth versus lies again, climate, change versus denial, economy, crisis versus long-term crisis, the list goes on and on. The issues are endless and the only thing that matter was to stay in line. So I did.
I canceled my son’s morning homeschooling sessions. I made contingency plans for canceling my own classes. I prepared to hunker down and wait in line until I voted. This is in a red state, a state that should already belong to the incumbent, still voting was cumbersome and by this time it was only 7am. So I started to document my experience. The lines were still growing. But we waited. Some people drove up, drove away. But we waited. We complained, we loathed the difficulties inherent with the system. And still waited. Some asked how long, and we heard 1 hour, 30 minutes, others said 2 hours. Still we waited. We waited, because our lives depended on this vote. We waited because we need to get to the bottom of this pandemic. We waited to exercise our right to vote.
We voted because as a global health researcher, as a public health researcher, the truth matters, public health matters and science, not fiction matters. We waited because our singular vote matters on this day, for myself, for my family, for my state, for this country. We waited despite all the unnecessary hurdles, despite only 2 voting machines in our location. We voted so that we could participate in this thing we call democracy. Keep waiting in line even if it takes 2 hours as I did today or longer. Wait. Your vote matters.