The first election I can remember was Clinton v. Bush. I was in Mrs. Nowak's third grade class in Somerville, NJ. There was a blue mailbox down the hall which we filed by on our way to the cafeteria and dropped our ballots in. I don't remember who won in our third grade election-- mostly I remember Mrs. Nowak telling us that 12 students' handwriting were so bad that their ballots had been counted as illegible and were disqualified. So the results were debatable.
Then in 7th grade I had just moved to a new city, Ithaca, and it was Clinton Clinton Clinton everywhere and even though the students were invited to vote in a school-wide election here too, most of us were just pissed that we had to miss the first half of lunch to wait in line because 2 of the school's 3 voting booths were broken. But I remember the feeling of being in the booth was awesome.
Then I was in 11th grade and 16 years old and some of my classmates really cared. To be honest, I didn't really. I was in AP US History and remember thinking that Bush II didn't really seem so bad and that Gore seemed like kind of a big loser. I didn't express this opinion, however, in fear of being equated by my classmates with the only vocally pro-Bush student in our class, a Jew for Jesus who dressed goth.
So at some point in college I guess I started caring. Not a whole lot, but just enough to know that things had once been better and that I was queer and female and neither of those things were particularily celebrated or defended by the presidential administration. I voted at an old-folks home in Middletown, Connecticut, got my "I voted today" sticker and wore it proudly.
Now I'm here in a city and state that's overwhelmingly Democratic-- last night at Dia de los Muertos the skeleton procession kept cheering "O!-ba!-ma!" to the music and it was amazing. I think that this election I realize for the first time what voting means and what kind of convictions go into voting. My mom told me she can't speak to my grandmother (pro-McCain/Palin) until after the election results come out. No matter what happens, things are about to change. Tomorrow I will wake up early and walk down the street and vote at the fire station. I'll drive to work in Oakland and work on my zine at the gallery and then come back to San Francisco to work on some new drawings. I'll go to El Rio for the Pissed-off Voters party and be with my new community in shared celebration or remorse.