Michelle Clemons, Program Associate, Campus Election Engagement Project.
It’s always interesting to me how little I remember about the days I know changed my life forever. We rarely stop during an event and think, “This moment will shape my life forever.” When I was in seventh grade, I sat inside the Auditorium at Kouts Jr./Sr. High School as a mock Democratic National Convention was held. Twenty years later, I no longer remember a whole lot of details about that day. Each student was assigned to a state and we got to decide who we would cast our votes for that day. Everything else is a blur; however, a fire was lit inside of me that day and I realized our political process in America was something amazing.When the Presidential Election arrived four years later, I found myself in an incredibly sad position because I was four months too young to vote. I watched my freshly 18 year old friends walk around with their, “I Voted” stickers proudly displayed on their shirts. I watched my grandfather and my parents and my neighbors file into my high school gymnasium to cast their votes. I watched with extreme jealously and longed for the day I could feel the same pride.
When I could finally vote in my first Presidential Election in 2000, I convinced everyone in my sphere of influence to register to vote. On November 7, 2000, I dragged them all to the Student Center at Ball State University to vote. To me, having people vote for “my candidate” wasn't my goal. I just wanted them to feel the rush I had felt as I watched politics unfold around me. After the polls closed that night, I made everyone gather with me to watch the results pour in from across the country. I went to bed that evening excited to have cast my vote for the man that would be the 43rd President of the United States—Al Gore.
Although the election did not end the way I expected, I didn't let it stop my passion for voting and the electoral process. Casting your vote (whether it be for the winner or the loser) allows you to engage in your community. Register to vote by October 9, 2012. It is your voice. It is your right. It is your choice. Plus, an “I Voted” sticker is a great accessory for not only an outfit but also for an engaged soul.