Have you ever listened to StoryCorps? It’s an NPR program whereby an AirStream trailer goes around the country recording the stories of Americans in every state. The recordings are all stored at the Library of Congress. I must admit, I’m moved by nearly every story I hear. They air them about once a week on NPR’s “Morning Edition.” Last Friday’s story was no different. It featured 56-year-old trucker, Boyd Applegate, who told his story to his sister, Rhonda Dixon.
Applegate, for the past 20 years, takes Election Day off to volunteer as a poll worker in San Diego. Every Election Day morning, he loads ballots and all the necessary materials into his car and drives 25 miles to the precinct. He says that he has a group of friends solely the result of working at the polls year after year. “People call me by name and tell me about their families.” These types of unexpected benefits are ones that Applegate loves, but that is not what brings him back. He says he maintains his dedication because he believes what he is doing is important.
“Over the years, I’ve run into many people who are naturalized citizens — they’ve come from all over the world,” he says. “I’ve had people approach me and ask me, ‘How much do I have to pay to cast my ballot?’ I’ve had people with tears in their eyes, grown people, who are voting for the first time in their life because the country where they come from, they didn’t have that right. I’m there as a representative of what’s right in America, and I enjoy it.”
Truer words were never spoken.
For those of you reading this in the United States, no matter your politics, no matter who wins, please, please, PLEASE, exercise your right to vote.
Even if you are a “blue” voting in a “red” state… even if you think that your vote won’t matter… even if you feel disillusioned by the process or system or negative ads or related silliness that often goes along with this time of year… If you don’t vote, as I like to say, you have no right to complain about anything for the next four years! Make sure your voice is heard. Make sure you exercise your privilege, your right, your opportunity to cast your vote.
I’m grateful for living in a free country that allows me to have a voice. Please join me in getting out the vote. And, hey, this is a blog about networking… you never know who you might meet at the polls. I actually voted last week and stood in line with a fellow with whom I used to work – it was a nice surprise and great to catch up… and to laughingly discover how diametrically opposed we are from a political perspective! It was fun and funny and, when all was said and done, we both received our super cool “I Voted” stickers and it doesn’t matter for whom we pulled the proverbial lever because it turns out we both exercised our right to stake our claim. Though we likely selected different candidates in nearly every race, we really aren’t that different… we’ll both be proudly donning our stickers all day long.
BONUS: Here’s an Election Night idea… do as my family does… gather at one home, dress in red, white and blue, bring along some patriotic hats and posters and buttons, serve chili dogs and apple pie and watch the results roll in!
Now get out there and VOTE!