Updated: December 4, 2012 6:11AM
“I just voted early. It felt good.”
“Say what you want, politicians. I early voted, so now I can ignore all the election stuff.”
“Voted early — if I could only vote often!”
So went the stream of messages I received via social media this week from friends who decided to skip the Super Bowl Sunday of the electoral process — aka the first Tuesday in November quadrennially since 1792 — and cast their ballot during what would be the Ritz Cracker Pregame Show.
Sensing a fad, and not wanting to be a square, I decided to join t.
This decision was not made lightly. Even before I became a registered voter in the Big ’80s, I’ve come to view the aforementioned first Tuesday as nothing less than a holiday, complete with traditions and that sensation that you’re not spending just another day on the rock.
I can remember where I was when NBC News called the 1980 presidential race for Ronald Reagan — nearly three hours before polls closed on the West Coast. I remember being wide awake in the middle of the night when I learned that Al Gore had called George W. Bush back to retract a concession — known to pop historians as the “No Need to Get Snippy” moment.
I had planned on spending about an hour of Nov. 6, 2012, driving to my designated polling place, walking past the small forest of campaign signs, walking past the “no electioneering beyond this point” sign, getting my ballot from the friendly retirees who run the precinct, huddling with a felt-tipped marker to fill in my predetermined ovals, and feeding my contribution to our democracy into the ballot box.
But this early-voting thing became too intriguing. Yes, I realize it’s been around since 2006 in Illinois, and I’m told that a full 30 percent of the U.S. electorate cast early ballots in the 2008 presidential election. But in 2012, the early-voting concept has taken on a mystique, something that makes voters feel like an 11th Ward operative.
Well, as it turned out, my inaugural early-voting experience wasn’t much more exciting than day-of voting. This is what you get for building something up in your head.
My first mistake was choosing to early-vote at the Lake County Building rather than the nice, quiet library near my home. Libraries don’t generally require you to pass through a security checkpoint that gets bogged down by twentysomethings who look like they just came from a Jerry Springer taping. What part of “put all metal items in a tray” is that hard to grasp?
Once I finally made it to the County Clerk’s Office, I actually had a stroke of luck and got in line just ahead of a small, but sudden flood, of early voters. I was particularly lucky not to end up behind the guy who didn’t have an ID with his current address. As far as I know, he’s still there.
I did have to wait about five minutes while someone wandered into the back to find my ballot and print up an envelope, which I then had to sign and date. I proceeded to spend maybe 20 or 30 seconds on the actual act of exercising my franchise.
And so my vote was signed, sealed (literally) and delivered on Nov. 3, 2012, and not Nov. 6, 2012. Sure, I felt a small sense of accomplishment, but also a sinking feeling that my actual Election Day is going to feel like that one Easter where we locked our car keys in the trunk and didn’t go anywhere. True story for another day.