Today is election day, and I find myself envious of all the people walking around proudly wearing "I voted today" stickers. Like many people in the Oberlin community, I voted early, and I did not receive a sticker when I dropped off my absentee ballot last week. Ohio recently changed its election laws to allow absentee voting without a reason, and early voting has been readily embraced by a number of Ohio residents wishing to avoid the notoriously long lines of the last presidential election. In 2004, voting required an epic display of civic commitment, as Oberlin students waited up to eight hours in line to cast their votes. I missed out on all that fun, too, as I was studying abroad in China at the time and had to vote absentee. I still wonder if my ballot really made it back and got counted, which I why this year I personally handed it in to an official at the Board of Elections.
The new absentee voting policy has been a bit controversial, and you may have read about it in the news. Apparently the short overlap between the deadline for registering to vote and the start of early voting ruffled a few feathers, and you may have heard about it due to Ohio's highly publicized importance as a swing state. (Unfortunately, being a swing state does not supply us with a plethora of swing sets--they're about as scarce as voting machines.) You may also have heard about Oberlin students in the news--the college's decision to provide buses to the local Board of Elections for students wishing to vote early received some national news coverage, as did the decision to issue $0 utility bills to all students to ensure that they had the documentation required to meet Ohio's voter ID requirement.
With this level of commitment to voting at Oberlin, you can imagine that there are quite a few of those "I voted!" stickers around to give me sticker envy. I've coveted those voter stickers since I was about three years old, when my dad used to take my brothers and me with him to the polls. If we were lucky, then we would all get one of the blue oval stickers to excitedly show Mom when she got home from work. So, if you are legally allowed to vote, I hope you do so and display your "I voted today!" sticker with pride, and if you're still too young to vote, then you can always hope that a parent will take you along and that a friendly poll worker might give you a sticker, too.