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Published:February 12th, 2008 06:17 EST
SOP's George Gildersleeve shares Voter's First Time

SOP's George Gildersleeve shares Voter's First Time

By George Gildersleeve

The year 2008 has just gotten started, but I've already experienced a few new things. Having turned 18, I have had many new experiences and am sure I will have many more in the coming months. One of the biggest opportunities I've been able to experience is a very important one. It is something that every citizen of the United States is obligated to participate in. By now, you probably know what I'm talking about. This year is the first time I've gone to the polls and voted for a presidential candidate.

Voting is something that I've known and understood the process for many years, but I could not legally participate until just this year. Some may expect that fulfilling this civic duty for the first time may be a bit overwhelming. Although this may seem like a daunting task to accomplish for the first time, it really turned out to be much easier than I had imagined it.

When I was younger, my mother would take me to the voting location with her and I would watch as she went into a booth, only to emerge a couple of minute later to drop her ticket in the ballot box. It seems like this was only a couple of years ago, but the process has changed a bit since then. In light of the confusion that some voters experienced 8 years ago, the process no longer requires a paper punch card to cast a vote.

When I went to my local polling station, a public elementary school, I showed my voter registration card, got my name checked off the list and was told which polling booth to go to. Once in the booth, I waited for a man to come around with an electronic block to activate my voting screen. When I got to the main voting screen there were around 20 different names to choose from for the party nomination, even though most had previously dropped out of the race.

Once I chose the candidate which I thought would perform the job of president to the best extent, I locked in my vote. At this point, the machine showed me who I had chosen and asked if I was satisfied with the final choice I had made. When I reviewed my choice, I was satisfied and sent my vote off to be counted-- all electronically.

The overall voting experience was not one that is particularly spectacular, but it's an easy, quick way to be a part of one of the biggest continuing choices that is made by the people of the U.S.A. The process was simple enough for anyone to understand, the poll workers were kind, and I had an easy and enjoyable experience since I knew I had let the nation know who I thought would perform the best job as our next president.

Voting is an important part of any republic. Without votes, nobody would ever be able to take office with the approval of the people of that republic. Although the United States has many problems that need to be addressed (different people see different problems but there is no arguing the fact that the problems are there), we still have the right to vote and the freedoms that were specifically given to us by the founders of our country.

Having the right to choose who takes office in our country is what keeps our country free. Because of this fundamental principle, it is the civic duty of every American citizen to vote and get their voice heard.

Later I learned I could have gotten a sticker, but missed out on that bonus.  Not to worry, we’ll get one in November.