Voters Share Stories: 'I Voted For The First Time In The Solitude Of My Dorm Room'

Nov 6, 2018
Originally published on November 7, 2018 7:09 am

With Election Day upon us, many voters walked, biked or drove to their polling station while others, who took advantage of early or mail-in voting, spent the day like any other Tuesday.

Amid all the updates and predictions and polling — and anxiety and Twitter refreshing and over-caffeinated conversations with colleagues — we asked voters like you to share their experience at the polls.

Some like Cuban-American Ninfa Riestra Floyd of Lexington, Ky., told us they waited in line for a while. Floyd said it took two hours to vote. "I was blown away by the line snaking around the school," Floyd said. "I talked to many in that line. ... I heard so many great stories about why they were out voting in the midterms." Floyd left the polling place smiling, but "a little sad for my family in Cuba who has never cast a vote in a free election."

Sonya Peters of DeMotte, Ind., who voted early, waited in line for half an hour and used that time to talk with her grandchildren about the privileges of voting. "I was proud to have young children learn and head them to a future where their votes when they are of age, will shape our country, too," Peters wrote.

Many people who responded to our callout wrote of bringing their children along with them. Wendy Kwasny of San Diego said, "It's important for my kids to see me physically vote so it will be common and comfortable for them."

"I loved being able to do my civic duty without having to worry about child care," said Morgan Leffler of Westerville, Ohio, whose 1- and 2-year-old children accompanied Leffler's trip to the polls.

After Jessica Kelly's 7-year-old daughter, Teagan, got her "Future Voter" sticker at their Hillsborough, N.C., voting location, she expressed her wish to vote, to which Kelly replied, "I'll create a ballot and you can vote for dinner tonight." After expressing concerns that not everyone likes her dinner selections and that she would be unable to sway her siblings, she decided to just have dessert.

Cristina Choi and her husband, who recently became a U.S. citizen, walked to their polling place in McFarland, Wis., as their sons biked nearby. "We hope to teach our children by example that voting is very important. That they should vote in every election — although, at this point, all the boys care about is the sticker," Choi told us.

Young voters, like Jordan Kennington of Lancaster, S.C., were asked if it was their first time voting. Kennington had voted before, but this was only her second time. Once she finished her ballot, a polling station worker announced to the room that it was only Kennington's second time voting. "The whole room started clapping and cheering," she says. "I teared up at how special it was seeing older adults celebrating younger generations coming out to the polls, and it made me feel more united to my fellow Americans in that moment."

"We have a first-time voter," a polling station worker in Dallas said to Bill Quinn's daughter, Kylie, as the 18-year-old cast her first ballot. They, too, were greeted by applause.

Ben Gossart, another first-time voter, did not vote in person; he voted absentee as he is currently in college. "I voted for the first time in the solitude of my dorm room, quietly reading all the instructions to make sure I did not make a mistake," Gossart told us. After finishing the ballot, Gossart did a quick Google search to find a place to buy stamps and mailed his votes to Washington.

We heard from a lot of Oregon voters who are very content with the state's mail-in voting system. "It's easy for everybody to vote, no stress of standing in line, finding the time to do so or traveling inconvenient distances," Wally Sykes of Joseph, Ore., told us.

In Portland, Ore., Layannah Roberts and friends met at a restaurant to discuss their ballots over dinner and beer. "We all had our beautiful Oregon mail-in ballots and our voter's pamphlet," Roberts wrote. "We cheers'd and sealed our envelopes to drop in the drop box at the library down the street."

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