I Waited 32 Years to Vote. And I Almost Didn't Make It.

I became a U.S. Citizen only a few months ago. It was a decade-long struggle that I finally won (I’ll leave those details for another day). But by the time I sent in my voter registration information, I was told it would be too late to vote in this year’s election. I had never voted in my life and I was deeply disappointed that I would have to wait two more years.

As I watched the news on Tuesday night, the results came streaming in. ‘Another election, another time on the sidelines,’ I thought. But something I never expected was going on. King County accepted postmarked ballots as long as it was stamped before midnight, November 2nd.

“It sucks that I can’t vote,” I said out loud.

“Your ballot was sitting on the table.” My wife said.

Wait, what? King County government was much more efficient than they themselves expected. I received a Voter’s Pamphlet a few weeks ago, but I set it aside without reading since I thought I wouldn’t be able to vote. My very smart wife (who is completely uninterested in politics) actually flipped through the pamphlet.

I got my PJ-wearing butt off the couch and hurried to the kitchen. The pamphlet was gone. Before I could say a word… “I put it in the recycling bin,” she added.

And there it was. The ballot. A chance to vote for the first time in my life, mixed in with shredded bills and old magazines. Democracy smelled of dog treats and overly-ripe apples. The clock read 11:03 pm. 57 minutes left in my chance to vote.

I filled in the form as quickly as I could, making sure I was voting for who and what I wanted. Licked, sealed, ready to go. Crap. No stamp. There was no time to dig around the house.

“Make sure you pick up extra stamps!” She said as I bolted out the door.

11:12 pm. 48 minutes left. As my Smart Car approached the Queen Anne post office, I got a call from Emily. She let me know that there was only one post office in the area that would be accepting ballots until midnight. And it was all the way down in SeaTac. She would serve as my dispatch and text the address while I was on my way.

I punched the gas and the Smart Car responded as if it was just a suggestion. The tiny, 1 liter, 70 horsepower engine took its sweet time pushing me to 60 MPH. The excitement and impending deadline pushed adrenaline through my body. My vote may not matter at this point, but I was going to do what I couldn’t for the last 32 years. I was almost sweating. But that just turned out to be the temperature set too high. I turned down the heat in the car.

During the drive down, I thought about how I would explain my impassioned driving to the police if I got pulled over. A white Smart Car flying down Highway 99 probably stands out like an alien spaceship in a Walmart parking lot.

‘Yes, officer. I was speeding. But please just write the ticket as quickly as you can. You see, I’ve waited 32 years to vote and I have just minutes left. In fact, could you consider giving me an escort?’

OK, maybe not. I mean, how fast can a 9-foot plastic car go?

The post office on 32nd Street was buzzing with activity and Democracy would throw up one more hurdle. A decrepit Camry was parked illegally in the handicapped spot, taking a space and half, and there were no other spots left. I gingerly squeezed the Cheezmobile into whatever opening was left by the crumbling Camry. I wanted this badly.

Stamped? Check. Return address? Check. Sealed? Check.

But before I handed the ballot over to be postmarked, I paused to savor this hard-earned moment and asked the mailman to take a picture. It was 11:37 pm. 23 minutes to the end of Election Day 2010.

Ben Huh and Voting for the First Time on Nov. 2nd, 2010 at the SeaTac post office

P.S. And I got the extra stamps just like my wife wanted. America, and the Huh family, slept well that night.

Posted on November 3, 2010, in Personal. Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. Fantastic story; I love it! And congrats on becoming a citizen. Welcome =)

  2. I love this story! It’s nice to know there are people as passionate as you are about voting – makes up for all the others who have had the ability to vote their entire lives and choose not to. Thank you for sharing – and I love your writing style :)

    in fact, IMMD!

  4. It was a pleasure reading your experience. The US needs more people like you. Thanks

  5. That was great. You’re a talented writer! Also, lolcats make my LIFE! I am so grateful for the site!

  6. What a great story, Ben! Good for you for caring about this so much and for sharing this story…

    adn Kongratchoofalayshuns on yer noo sitteesenship adn welcome…
    ***ekstends floofy paw ob speshul Ammerican cheezfrendship***

    Go Ben! :)

  7. Congratulations, Ben! Well done! My mother was a naturalized citizen also! Well done indeed!

  8. Congratulations on becoming a citizen! I’m sorry it’s so complicated for the good people who follow the rules. That’s a reform I’d like to see, but I digress… Good job getting in your ballot!

  9. Congratulations, Ben! I’m assuming this is the same Ben from Northern California with whom I shared the wisdom of Ms. Suter. Congratulations on the voting, and on your success!

  10. Congratulations on voting and citizenship! I have logged many miles in my wife’s Geo Metro, so I know what it is like to drive 1ltr 3 banger. With all the unpleasantness from all sides of all things political, it is great to read a happy story for a change.

  1. Pingback: Around the web | alexking.org

  2. Pingback: There’s Voting, and Then There’s VOTING! at Scott Porad

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