My Extraordinary Early Voting Experience
© 10/28/2012, by J. Joy “Sistah Joy” Matthews Alford
Standing in line from 2:30 until 7:30 PM for early voting at Oxon Hill Library on yesterday, Sunday, 10/28, was awesome. Yes, I said and meant awesome! As an empowered member of an intimate "circle of 5" for 5 hours, my prolonged voting experience is one that I will undoubtedly remember for the rest of my life. Clearly we were in a sea of thousands waiting to cast our ballots, but our circle of 5 became family. We even exchanged information and promised to stay in touch. Based on the social consciousness and commitment to change expressed within our group during our (relatively) brief time together, I look forward to future family connections. …………………………………..
Thank you to each of my fellow voters: Bessie, Shirley, Carl and Ellen, for your generosity and kind spirits. We shared family stories and hopes for our futures; and shared hopes for our nation and hopes for our nation’s future, all while waiting to vote. We reconnected with friends not seen in years as we shared umbrellas during the intermittent showers, "bio-coffee" and Ellen’s collapsible chair that “magically” controlled the speed of the line. Needless to say, we tried to encourage her to remain seated! Seriously though, what an absolute thrill and honor to be part of the throng of voters that formed a line (double and triple deep at times!) that wrapped around and lined-up inside and throughout the library to cast our vote. Single file lines weren’t required until we got inside.
I will forever remember our fellowship during this historic and personally empowering moment when Providence brought us together. The occasion brought back to mind my hours-long trek, along with millions of others from around the nation and world who braved the cold to witness the 2009 Inauguration. It felt absolutely fitting on this occasion some 4 years later, and about 4 hours into our wait at the polls when a sister just a few feet in front of our group began rendering several uplifting and inspirational songs, my favorite of which was, “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands.” It just felt right to hear that sentiment as we were finally within eye-sight (at last!) of the library door, so close to the moment we would cast our ballot.
Thank you to all who stood in line for hours, (…and hours!) to vote despite the wind and rain and impending hurricane/storm. I pray God spreads His arms of mercy and protection over our nation during this precarious time – keeping us safe through both storms. I pray God also brings words to my spirit that will permit me to do justice through poetry to this extraordinary voting experience.
I am reminded just now of how, once we were inside the library but still not close enough to see where the voting was taking place, we kept hearing periodic outbursts of cheers. How wonderful it was when we discovered the cheers were lifted each time a first-time voter shared that this was their first time voting.
Yes, together we can make a difference. Now we just have to remember that voting is just the FIRST step. The next step is to hold all elected officials accountable for what they promise during their campaigns so we don't end up with another "Kick-the-Can/Do Nothing Congress. Too many elected officials show up on our TV screens, in our communities and at our churches during campaign time, but are absent throughout their term in office. “We, the people” (that's us) need our elected officials to be present and accountable throughout their term, not just show up at re-election time. The real deal, though, is that if we, the people, only show up to the political process during election time, we can't complain when elected officials do the same. I implore everyone, …c’mon people, let’s get engaged and stay engaged, ...or don't complain.
Thank you again to each of my friends, neighbors and fellow Marylanders who braved a bit of inclement weather and a few unanticipated hours of standing in a line to exercise the right, responsibility and privilege to vote. This was the best 5 hours I could ever have invested in my future and my children’s future. As I said earlier, it was just awesome!