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Voting early for the first time

November 1, 2012 - Andrea Johnson
A few thoughts crossed my mind this morning when I stood in line at the Ward County Courthouse to cast my vote early, the first time I have ever voted ahead of the actual Election Day.

What happens if someone casts his vote early and then dies in a car accident before Election Day? Is that vote still valid? But how would they find out which ballot belonged to the voter since the ballots, at least those cast at the courthouse, are anonymous? I imagine an absentee ballot with the person's name on it would be a different matter, though they're both technically still early votes.

I also wondered whether a kid who turns 18 on Nov. 6 would be able to vote early, while he or she is still technically 17, and have the vote count. That very young voter might have to wait until he's actually 18 since he isn't an eligible voter prior to Nov. 6.

I decided to vote early because I thought the whole process was time-consuming and irritating in June, when they couldn't find my name on the rolls even though I've voted in every election since I was 18 and have lived at the same address and voted in the same location for more than five years. The process went smoothly during early voting at the courthouse. I handed over my license, they found my name right away and handed me my ballot.

One of these days I'm going to test the election workers by showing up without a photo ID or a piece of mail with an address on it and test the notice saying you can still vote if you sign an affidavit swearing you have the right to vote. That sign is on the wall next to the large printout showing the ballot and a map showing the various precincts. It would probably irritate the election workers and the other voters if I did that and held up the line, though, and it would be inconsiderate since I actually do have appropriate ID.

The line to vote early stretched to the front steps of the courthouse, probably because everyone else had the same bright idea I did, but it was probably faster than it will be on the actual Election Day. Today is the last day you can vote early in Ward County and that probably meant a lot more people showed up.

I don't know that my vote actually makes much of a difference or will have an impact on the way the state does business. However, I do believe that voting is a duty as well as a right and a privilege that too many people do not exercise. Someone posted a picture of the early suffragettes on Facebook, women who fought long and hard to give me the right I exercised this morning. I remember them every time I start filling in the circles on that ballot.

If you have not voted, it's well worth your time and energy to do so, either today or on Tuesday.


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