Election Day for Me

Election Day for Me

Dramatic. One word sums up my May 18th election day, the first time my health permitted me to vote in person. 

4 AM. I awake panicking, "This is election day! Did I sleep through voting?!" Frantically, I look at my clock and realize I can go back asleep. The polls aren't even open yet. Besides, we aren't voting until 2 PM. 

​When I do get up, my day is fairly typical until the afternoon. 

12:30 PM. The front door slams as my mom races outside, then she comes inside again, runs into my room, and exclaims, "Lauren! There's a helicopter!"

"What's the significance of that?" I ask somewhat annoyed, as I was trying to sleep. But when I see the look on her face, I bolt out of bed and race outside barefoot.

I scan the sky. I hear it. It's loud, but I don't see it.

"Where?" I gasp. My mom points directly above a neighbor's house, but trees obstruct my view.

We talk to a delivery man in front of our home. "It's a State Police helicopter," he informs us.

Further down the street I see 2 parked State Police cars. A neighbor walks towards my mom and me and passes along a message from the police, "Go inside and lock your doors." My heart races as I take off running for our house. There are now 6 police cars and a SWAT team in our neighborhood.

From the windows inside, I finally see a black helicopter making low circles above our surrounding woods. I learn from the news that there were 2 homicides and a car bombing. The police are using their thermal camera from the helicopter to look for the man who did it.

12:50 PM. A neighbor messages that the man was found and is in custody. I relax but am sobered. The next day I learn the man spent the previous night sleeping in the woods surrounding our home.

2:10 PM. I depart home with my parents to vote. We feel safe, as the man has now been caught, but the State Police helicopter is still hovering and now a news helicopter is following it. The main road to our poll is blocked with police and news, so we go another way.
2:15 PM. My parents and I arrive at the polls to see police surrounding it. I walk inside where a volunteer informs me that the man who committed the homicides lived directly across the street and is registered to vote here. "He didn't vote today," he adds. "We checked the records."

2:20 PM. I show my ID, sign my name, and walk to a polling booth. I am voter 209. Voting in person feels more real, more official, and more exciting than voting absentee in bed ever did.

2:25 PM. I walk out of the polls with a "I voted" sticker stuck proudly to my shirt. My dad snaps my picture.
And that was my election day, my first time voting in person. A day I'd anticipated since I was in my single digits but a day that was unlike anything I ever imagined. A day I won't easily forget.

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