i was thinking about all the different ways one can vote and i realized, when it comes to voting for president, i may have experienced them all. i was born in 1968 so the first year i could vote was in 1986; the first presidential election i could vote in was in 1988. i'm including who i voted for mainly because i have always been open about it--rich is the polar opposite of me in this regard (in fact, i have no idea who he is voting for this election). i know he voted for ross perot twice in the 90s. anyway, little known personal fact: i was initially registered as a republican...
1988: i voted absentee, while living in rome, via mail-in ballot. i voted for ron paul and andré marrou, the libertarian presidential and vice presidential candidates, but i'm guessing it didn't matter much...
1992: i voted in person at st. michael's church in houston, using a punch card. and i voted for ross perot (i think--i was going back and forth between him and andré marrou, and i think i settled on perot).
1996: i voted absentee at the american embassy in spain, where rich and i were trying to establish rich's identity (a running theme for him) so he could get a new passport (he was robbed in madrid). i gladly voted for slick willie, but i doubt it was counted as i think the domestic margin outweighed the pending absentee ballots.
2000: i voted in person at some church down the street from my house in houston, using a punch card. i distinctly remember checking and rechecking the card to make sure it was aligned properly. and i voted for nader. this is the one and only time, so far, that i have ever regretted a vote.
2004: i voted in person at gus' kindergarten, lincoln elementary in iowa city, via scantron circles. i voted for john kerry, who i believed in fervently until the swift boat book came out. the reason it gave me pause is because the o'neill family had been our family friends for years and i knew john o'neill (the primary author of the book) to be a rational, fair man. i still voted for kerry.
2008: i voted saturday, early voting, at a polling center in los ranchos de albuquerque via scantron circles. i voted for obama and many increases in funding for UNMH (rich's soon-to-be-full-time employer). i am very much aligned with obama (i'm not crazy about the idea of war with afghanistan, but that might happen regardless of who wins) and just mostly aligned with biden. i would have been totally aligned with obama/bill richardson.
the point of all this is such: go vote. do it however you can. i think colin powell said yesterday that this is the most important election since reconstruction, and he's right. whichever way you wish to see your country go, you must use your constitutionally amended voice to speak for it. this election goes beyond the usual "if you don't vote, you can't complain" sentiment--everyone matters this time. please don't let this opportunity to determine the direction of our nation slip by.