1. Make big plans to wake up at 6:45a in the hopes of beating the crowds, in case they take issue with you just showing up at their polling place without an invitation
2. Toss and turn until about 3:00a, at which point turn over and change your alarm to 7:45a
3. Wake up at 8:45a, throw on some sweats. Wear your boots without socks in an effort to conserve socks and valuable machine washing.
4. Walk to your friendly neighborhood polling place.
5. Create a blister, curse the cold.
6. Try not to think about where all those plastic signs will be thrown tomorrow.
7. Go straight to the front; there are no crowds, who were you kidding. Turn off your phone, slightly disappointed (and for some reason surprised) that you can’t document everything via pictures.
8. Present your license with the incorrect address (you’ve only lived here for six months give yourself a break) and your most recent paycheck with your correct address. Smile convincingly, like someone who lives in this neighborhood, as opposed to Calvert County, where your license says you live.
9. Walk excitedly to your (paper!) ballot, listen while the nice lady explains everything. Become slightly suspicious of her insistence that you use (erasable!) pencil, before you realize that the ballot is probably counted via scantron. Facepalm.
10. Look at your ballot; realize you’ve done all your political research for the wrong Congressional District. Resist the urge to vote solely along party lines just to have voted; skip the questions with names you don’t know.
11. Reread the questions on the back six or so times in an attempt to translate them into real-person speak. Answer said questions when you think you know what they mean. Hope for the best.
12. Fold your ballot on the million or so fold lines and slip inside the sealable folder. Slip folder inside a very official-looking red government bag. Feel like someone who is more important than you are as you do so.
13. Limp home on your ever-widening blister, carrying your information and sticker.
14. Shower, change, proudly don your “I voted!” sticker.
15. Put a band aid on your blister before you go out the door.
And so we witness the end.
3 years ago