Daughters of the Dirt / Sarah Higdon

One Voice
by Bernadette Noll

On Election Day last spring I took my six-and-a-half-year-old daughter to the polls. She was excited about voting; she had been discussing it all week because of the many reminders about town: fliers, placards, postcards, billboards. It was thanks to her reminder that I remembered election day at all. So off we were after a week of discussing the process and a week of MANY phone calls made to the house by pollsters. "Who was that?" she would ask after a brief moment on the phone. "An election call was all," I responded absently, not realizing she was taking it all in. 

On election day we went, signed in and quickly placed our ballots via electronic voting machine. "Why'd you pick the number five machine?" "Why'd you spin that button?" "What are those stickers for?" "Can I have one?" question after question she voiced. We made our selections, and bid the workers farewell.

Out in the parking lot she seemed confused, "Isn't this where we vote?" I didn't understand her question as we had already exited the building. "Is this the place where we vote?" she asked again, rephrasing in hopes of gaining my understanding.

"Yes, that was it, we voted," I informed her, wondering about her confusion

"But you didn't call out anybody's name," she replied disappointedly. "I thought you had to call out the name of the person you wanted."

"Oh, Lucy," I exclaimed wanting to hug her for her misunderstanding. "That would be way better, wouldn't it? But no, I voted by pushing the buttons on that machine. That's what that was." "Oh," was all she had to say in response somewhat let down.

And I realized that was why she was so excited all week. She envisioned a line of candidates standing in a room facing the voting crowd, "I'll take her!!" we would yell or "GIVE US HIM!!!" we would shout, pointing to our man.

All week I had talked about using our voting voice, the only voice that is given to us. She took it literally. Tonight I saw a billboard warning against electronic voting machines and how they were easily hacked. A shot of panic rang through me about the upcoming presidential election. Maybe we should shout our demands. Maybe we should rally and the most popular would be declared the winner. If only it worked that way If only the majority actually won. What a world that would be.
Bernadette Noll lives, writes and votes in Austin.