Sometimes, elections come with drama. Punditry, debates, commercials, and yard signs surround us and (if we let them) occupy our hours and minds.

This campaign-driven drama can lead to an anti-climactic feeling in the actual moments just before voting. No matter how enthusiastic I might be about an election, waiting in line to get my ballot feels a little like prepping a room before painting the walls: necessary, but uninspiring.

The actual voting moment, however, never fails to make me emotional.

Where I live, we use electronic ballots. Each selection I make on the screen feels like a cheer, an internal celebration of my values, my opinions, my hopes and dreams.

By the Are these your final selections? confirmation question that is the last step on the voting machine, I have tears in my eyes. I blink them away as I walk to the ballot collection machine and (if they are offering them) accept my I voted sticker.

Perhaps that seems silly. Perhaps, to some, that makes me ridiculous.

I don’t care. I won’t apologize, or duck my head to hide the tears. I won’t allow myself to feel embarrassed or less than because I bring my emotions into the polling booth. I hope I always react this way, feel like this.

It wasn’t so long ago that brave, determined people fought to make sure that I could vote. There are still battles happening today, efforts to ensure that people can be heard. Sometimes, I feel like those who paved the way, who put everything on the line (and are still doing so now) are voting with me, standing by my side or crowded behind me, cheering along.

I will never be a world leader, never discover a cure for disease or make life-altering judicial decisions. I’ll never fly a spacecraft or make a news-breaking scientific discovery. When I vote, however, as I did yesterday, I become part of the historical record.

It’s a tiny role, for sure, like a background character in a live, on-stage performance. But imagine if the tiny roles didn’t exist. You’d be left with a half-complete story, one lacking heart and soul, warmth and energy. You’d be missing the context and meaning that can only exist when many are present, many are part.

I’m proud and grateful for what I am able to contribute.

Here’s to the emotional experience of voting and the celebration of all it represents.

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