Growing up in a military home, it was always expected that when we were of age, it was our duty to vote. I remember Mom coming home with the “I voted” sticker which would promptly be placed in my sticker album. The interesting thing about my mother is that she never shared her voting choices with anyone.
I didn’t understand this until I was able to vote for the first time in the early 90’s. I read up on the issues and candidates, and headed out to my polling location. I was very nervous, wondering if I had made the correct choices. My hands shook as I pushed the poker through the black dot on the thick paper, locking in my vote. I breathed a sigh of relief as I stuck my completed ballet in the box and walked out the door, completing my first duty as an 18 year old.
When I came home, my father questioned my votes and I found myself interrogated and defending my choices. Debating politics with my father was a no-win situation, and to this day I cannot talk to him without getting excited over what I believe and struggle to make a feeble attempt at stacking facts against his theory. I felt my blood pressure surge into my face making it hot and red. I finally yelled that it was enough and retreated to my bedroom.
I understood why my mother kept her votes to herself. Even though my father’s badgering was done in jest, it was exhausting to keep up with him. My sister is just like my father and I have to come prepared for any discussion on politics or religion prior to engaging.
So, I go vote and keep my choices to myself, just like mother. Now when I am asked who I voted for, my response is, “You first.”