Newton City Hall

Today is Election Day, and for the first time in a half-dozen years, I won’t be walking to my local polling place. Now that I’ve switched my official residence from Keene to Newton, I’m registered to vote in Massachusetts…but since I teach in New Hampshire on Tuesdays, I voted via absentee ballot a week ago.

Newton War Memorial

I’ll miss voting in-person at my old polling place in Keene. As I described last year, my former polling place in Keene is the same place where my students vote, so there’s typically a line of young, first-time voters lined up to register, and this always strikes me as a cheerful sight: a tangible reminder of youthful hope and idealism in an age that too often feels jaded and cynical.

When you cast an absentee ballot, you miss out on the communal aspect of voting, with election volunteers checking your name off their rolls while other votes wait in line for their turn. When you cast an absentee ballot, you have an even greater sense of being just one vote–just one voice–in a sea of votes and voices. Dropping your ballot into a mailbox (like dropping your vote into a ballot box) feels like an act of faith: a love-letter to your fellow citizens that reads “I care enough to make my opinion known.” Wherever you live and wherever you vote, be sure to do so. Our country needs more love letters–more hope and idealism–and less jaded cynicism.

I snapped both of today’s pictures of the Newton City Hall and War Memorial on the sunny day last month when I applied for my absentee ballot.