The first time I was of-age to vote was the Bush-Kerry election in 2004. I was 21 and very, very excited to get a say.
I was less excited about my options, as was, oh, every other American in the country. But dangit, I was going to vote, and I was going to matter!
Except … I didn’t matter.
You may remember that eight years ago, the vote was very very very very close. So close that, eventually, Kerry said, “I concede” before all the votes were counted.
And my vote was one of those that wasn’t counted.
I went to school at Kent State University in Ohio. There is nothing like living in Ohio during an election season, I swear it. That whole “as goes Ohio, so goes the nation” makes the battleground state a hotbed for famous people campaigning (a friend of mine answered her door one morning to find Steve Buscemi and Marisa Tomei standing there, wanting to make sure she was registered). That fact compounded with my voting virginity and made me this giddy.
So I got to my polling place, and I handed the woman my ID. She found my name and checked my address.
“It says you live at 9 Midway Drive on your ID. I have that you live at 8 Midway Drive.”
I explained, “Well, my ID was from last year. I live in the same dorm building — right down the hall — but over the summer, the university changed the address on the building.”
“I’m sorry,” she said. “But these need to match up. You can’t vote.”
“But I didn’t move,” I told her. “I live in the very same building. This is both Centennial Court B.”
She called over other volunteers and they discussed what to do with lil ol’ voter fraud me.
Eventually, they let me vote, but they set my information aside. It wouldn’t be counted until after everyone else’s was counted, when the voter board could go over my information and decide what on earth to do with little ol’ devious me.
When Kerry conceded the election, Ohio was still counting votes. Which means … that whole “every vote counts” was bullshit to a very disillusioned 21-year-old Jaclyn.
Today, I’m happy to say, I voted without incident.
Though I they never gave me my dang “I voted” sticker. I’m calling shenanigans.
Update: The word I was looking for above and could not think of to save my soul was “provisional” ballot. That’s what I had to cast. Thank you, New York Times.