Voting: Easy for Her, Not for Him

Hanover — I voted. Today, I can proudly say that for the first time.

Though I was born in Washington, D.C., 21 years ago and raised only 40 minutes outside of the capital, in Maryland, I wasn’t interested in politics growing up. As a privileged Caucasian girl who was raised in the “1 percent,” I would shrug “Who cares?” to anyone who tried to talk to discuss politics.

But since I graduated high school and after nearly four years at Dartmouth College, I have come to understand the importance of voting my convictions and the weight that my vote can carry.

Over the past few weeks I heard a lot about the length of voting lines and how young voters can sometimes get pressured to vote a certain way or leave the polls, discouraged, without voting.

But I chose to vote in New Hampshire, rather than by absentee ballot in Maryland, because I thought my vote would count for more in a swing state.

So when I went to Hanover High School at noon yesterday. I marched into the polling station with my dukes up. I was determined not to let myself be intimidated by any “challenger” — and I was prepared to wait as long as necessary to cast my ballot.

But instead of encountering voter challenges and long lines, I was met by a smiling voting official who pointed my boyfriend, also a Dartmouth College senior, and me in the right direction.

I approached the man by the sign labeled “C-D,” received my ballot and walked towards a voting station. I moved in quietly between two other voters, grabbed the pen in front of me, and began to fill out my ballot. Instructions: Fill in the blank circle next to the candidate of your choice. Simple enough. Besides, I had done this on plenty of tests in high school.

After I handed in my ballot and received my official “I Voted” sticker, I was left feeling somewhat underwhelmed. Where was the drama? Why was that so easy?

But on the other side of the gym, my boyfriend wasn’t having such easy time of it. He had to register to vote. When he tried to register as a Libertarian, he was turned down. The voting official told him he had to register as either Undecided, Independent, Republican or Democrat. He ultimately registered as Independent, and was able to cast his ballot. Later, over lunch, he vented to me about his frustrations with the system.

I finished 10 minutes earlier than he did because I had registered in Hanover weeks in advance. While I was waiting, I sat among other Dartmouth students who discussed how proud they were to participate and the excitement they felt about this election. I am proud, too.

I am proud because I voted for social issues in which strongly believe. I voted for my best friend, who I believe deserves to be allowed to marry whomever she chooses when the time comes. I voted for a clean environment and a renewable future. I voted for affordable education for everyone. I voted for equality in the workplace not only for myself, but also for millions of women who continue to struggle with the wage gap. Bottom line, I voted based on my belief that equality for everyone is a fundamental idea and the nation needs a president who not only believes in that idea, but one who will see it through.

Which is why I voted to reelect President Obama for another four years.

Olivia Durr is a Dartmouth College senior and interned for the Valley News last summer.