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More than Just a Ballot — 2012 Elections Review

If I should need to name,

O Western World, your powerfulest scene and show,
’Twould not be you, Niagara—nor you, ye limitless prairies—nor your huge rifts of canyons, Colorado,
r you, Yosemite—nor Yellowstone, with all its spasmic geyserloops ascending to the skies, appearing and disappearing,
Nor Oregon’s white cones—nor Huron’s belt of mighty lakes—nor Mississippi’s stream:
—This seething hemisphere’s humanity, as now, I’d name—the still small voice vibrating—America’s choosing day,
(The heart of it not in the chosen—the act itself the main, the quadrennial choosing,)
The stretch of North and South arous’d-sea-board and inland-Texas to Maine—the Prairie States—Vermont, Virginia, California,
The final ballot-shower from East to West—the paradox and conflict,
The countless snow-flakes falling—(a swordless conflict,
Yet more than all Rome’s wars of old, or modern Napoleon’s:) the peaceful choice of all,
Or good or ill humanity—welcoming the darker odds, the dross:
—Foams and ferments the wine? it serves to purify—while the heart pants, life glows:
These stormy gusts and winds waft precious ships,
Swell’d Washington’s, Jefferson’s, Lincoln’s sails.

Walt Whitman, “Election Day, November 1884”

Elections are an important part to our democratic society. In this review we present the 2012 election through three different perspectives to explore its meaning and implications.

Among the Casual Onlookers

When my father drove past Shady Grove Middle School the morning of Election Day, the parking lot was not inundated by ranks of cars and motorcycles, yet the grass nearby was swamped by rows of ferocious signs, each screaming “FOR” or “NO” to the crowd of casual onlookers. As I stepped into the Tuesday air, two women embracing pathos-filled fliers rushed my way, each outrunning the other hoping to beget another believer. A diplomatic “thank you” couldn’t vanquish their zeal, nor could an annoyed “I’m sorta busy.” Only when the grand revelation, the bloody confession that “I’m only 16 and can’t vote” came about, did the ardent lobbyists retreat to the lonely sidewalk.

Making my way towards the school entrance, I approached the young voting post volunteer, who had on a leather jacket, earmuffs, and a corpulent scarf. The chilly November air could not dissuade this college sophomore from helping out, she had been staffing the station throughout the voting season.

“I already turned in my ballot during early voting,” she said, “now I just want to be here to help this election. Whether this is your first or fiftieth time, I want to be of any help I can. My mother came from a country where the mere mentioning of ‘voting’ would seem silly. So our family takes voting as a real privilege, I think it truly matters.”

She felt glad to see an increase in the number of voter turnout this year, which she attributes to the “collection of referendums that appeals to many diverse groups.” Although the numbers on Election Day weren’t particularly remarkable, more voters showed up for early voting than previous years.

“I’ve had to do more work this year than since I’ve started volunteering in high school. I’ve also seen a greater number of young people coming out to vote.”

The election is more than donkeys v. elephants or one icon against another. In the democratic society we live in, the faring of our community depends on the input and choices we make for it. Any change only spark when we express our voices, regardless of what ideals they may sing to.

And it should not only be the years when controversy surfaces that the people began to care. In the ideal situation, there would be no build-up of disagreements. We the people would stay informed about the pressing challenges confronting our community, and make educated decisions to aid ourselves in continuing changes for the better.

This begins with the younger generation. It begins with the voting-post helper busy at work, it begins with the college freshman walking into the voting entrance, it begins with the high school sophomore waving the “Vote for Question 4” banner high in the air, it begins with You. Although many of us have yet to wait another year or two before we can vote, it’s never too early to become a responsible citizen. There are local media to inform us about issues in our neighborhood, programs to raise our confidence, and forums that bring multiple perspectives to our eyes.

One day, when you witness a cleaner, safer, friendlier community you’ve always desired, you’ll realize the power of your voice. And that the 15 minutes you spent to bubble in some circles were well-spent.

Reaffirming Love and Justice 

(By Ben Feshbach, Sophomore at Wootton High School)

I see working on campaigns as an investment in the future of the state of Maryland. I want the state of Maryland to recognize love beyond biblical conventions; to recognize Americans beyond documentation and discrimination. I want to open minds, not closed doors. I want Maryland to be the best state in the country, with robust economics and strong civil liberties.

I believe that legalizing same-sex marriage and affirming the Maryland DREAM Act was the right thing to do in Maryland, which is why I worked so hard for questions 6 and 4. I remember standing in a crowded room on election night, anxious about ballot questions and Presidential politics alike. We won not in just votes, but in virtue, not just with ballots, but with people. I’m just glad we won.

Voice of the Public

(By Zoe Johnson, Sophomore at Blair High School

I was at Kennedy HS. The election judge told me that voter turnout seems to be extremely solid this year, with over 30% of the voting district (right word?) appearing at the voting post by 10 am, and over 20% having voted early. All ages and races seemed to be there (I noted a lot of small children being shown the ropes), and there were a lot of young adults electioneering for Questions four and six. Many people seemed to feel strongly about Question 6.

I am an electioneer myself, and I feel that I’ve truly gained valuable experiences while working there.

Tell us about your story with this year’s elections! Your involvement and what do you think of the results. Go to our contributions page.

One Response to More than Just a Ballot — 2012 Elections Review

  1. Charles Reply

    November 26, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    Your post, More than Just a Ballot — 2012 Elections Review, is really well written and insightful. Glad I found your website, warm regards from Charles!

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