Standing in Line With Other New Yorkers for Early Voting: It’s Not as Bad as You Think

Yesterday, I exercised my right to vote for the President of the United States of America. Below is my experience as a French-American citizen who decided to go voting early instead of by mail. This isn’t something I have done in France. In total, I have voted four times in the French presidential elections.

  • in 2002 with Chirac vs Le Pen JM
  • in 2007 with Sarkozy vs Royal
  • in 2012 with Hollande vs Sarkozy
  • in 2017 with Macron vs Le Pen M

2020, Year of Transformation

I voted early!

Yesterday, for the first time in my life, I waited in line for more than two hours to vote in a US election. From Saturday, October 24th until November 1st, New York residents are eligible to work early.
I heard some people say “What’s the point of voting if you’re not in a swing state?“It’s true, I live in New York City, and it’s blue here. Yet, this election is historical, so I will be casting my vote regardless.
I would like to share the following accomplishment I am proud of:

Some might say that in today’s polarized landscape it’s quite “revolutionary” or “wise”…

In my opinion it’s just common sense. Keeping a cool head and having control over your own actions requires real work on yourself and inner strength. It isn’t easy. But possible. Anyway, here you go:

I made it through four years of refraining from deleting or unfollowing people I disagree with from my social media feeds.

To me this country is frankly amazing, and is far from being a failure.

The truth is, I have friends on both sides with a majority of them on one side, to be honest. What my friends and I often have in common is that we experienced a different system of government which shaped how we perceive the world.

Some of my friends living abroad, who spent their entire life in one country hold strong opinions on the US elections. Holds also true to Americans. Everyone has opinions and they often tend to be subjective and shaped by one’s own’s life experience. At times it’s very easy to see how someone’s perception of the world is narrow. Actually it’s often framed by what kind of media they access at home. I used to be like them, with the “I know better” mentality. The history of the United States is just different, you need to take it into consideration. We often go to school and learn more about the history of our own country and brush off the history of other nations. Actually, in my case, since I went through a French-German program, I had history lessons in German, with German history books. It was interesting when I had conversations with my other classmates who went through the usual French curriculum. If felt like for students like me in the Abi-Bac section, our perspective grew broader.

It took years for me to understand what America was about, the values it stands for, and its history.
I find that you can listen to and respect someone without having to agree with them. It might be inconceivable for some people but it is possible to appreciate other points of view.

I choose to focus on what unites us instead of what divides us.

Early Voting Process

Let’s go back to the voting part! Before anything, I checked online where my voting location was. The early voting location differs from the Election Day location. Their opening hours are indicated online, making the entire information gathering process easy.

Once I headed to the location, the process of voting in itself went smoothly. I did wait in line for two hours but it didn’t feel that long. We were lined up near a outdoors sports park so it was distracting to see people play baseball, basketball and american handball. While we waited, the staff distributed water bottles as well as fresh slices of pizza which was very thoughtful.

Once you are inside the location it goes pretty quickly. Everyone respected social distancing and wore masks. Inside, everything is well indicated, so you can’t get lost. You first go check-in at the registration booth which was secured by plexiglass. In my case since I didn’t have a voting card, the officer found me on the list and printed my ballot on the spot. It’s a large sheet but they also give you a large folder to put it inside which allows voting privacy. Then you go to privacy booth area and pick one. Those booths are narrow but large enough to fit the ballot. Finally, you go to the scanner and put the ballot inside. Super quick and efficient. Very modern compared to how I voted during French elections.

Chair Thoughts

I would like to share the story of the chair. I found this chair while hanging out in my neighborhood. It caught my eye, the dominos glued to the chair looked peculiar so I took a picture.

Sometimes I get stuck on fleeting moments that happened and take it as an opportunity to reflect on life. I mean, I searched for “Chair” and “Symbolic” and found tones of content, as for example this article by Paul Thomas. I found it to be relevant to this particular time we are living. “The spiritual form of the chair is based on allowing the body to rest, so the mind can fully concentrate, without being disturbed by other bodily needs.”

Finding this chair outdoors has been a reminder of this very unique time we are living. New Yorkers are usually walkers, but this year they became sedentary. We used to live so much of our lives outdoors, coming home for our basic needs. The majority of us eating out, meeting friends in different boroughs. Now our habits took a 180-degree turn. We have either moved away from the city or have stayed to become full-time indoor people. Our window to the world and other opinions is now filtered by an electronic device. We don’t meet face to face that much. It’s quite eerie when you think about it. We are isolated and our “connection” is through a computer or a mobile device tracking everything we do, scroll through, search online. What a new reality! My question to you is, how do you allow your mind to rest?

I am paranoid and dislike this reality of leaving endless digital footprints. You probably watched “The Social Dilemma” on Netflix and know what I mean.

If you don’t use it already, I would suggest using a VPN. Learn another language so that you can access more sources of information and expand your “bubble”. Another tip is to switch to the browser “Brave” and search engine “Duck Duck Go” now more than ever. At least question which ideas are truly your own. Clearly, we are influenced by our environment, but what if that environment is now mostly digital?

Food for thought…let me know if you share some of these thoughts as well.

I will end this post with this quote that is still relevant today, it’s by Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet) 1694-1778:

“It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.” ― Voltaire, The Age of Louis XIV


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