Farewell, Old Voting Booth
I voted last night, not without a touch of sadness. Sadness not for anything to do with politics per se, though there's plenty of that sort of sadness to go around, but rather nostalgia for a bygone era, sadness for the demise of the old New York voting machine, the voting machine I had cast every prior vote on, having always been a New York City resident.
For me, that machine was a fitting symbol of our democracy and of our place in the body politic. Even for an atheist like me there was an appeal to the almost sacred and most assuredly ritualistic nature of those old machines. For me those machines and voting went hand-in-hand. There was something majestic about the big red handle you'd pull to the right to close the curtains. And then you were inside a zone of privacy, almost like a confessional, where you would exercise your sacred duty of citizenship. Flip the little black levers down for your candidates of choice. Then, after all of your choices were made, pull the big red handle back to the left to register your votes and open the curtains.
That was the kind of voting machine my mother took me into by the hand as a tyke, to watch her exercise her civic duty, perhaps when I was four, when she voted for JFK. My first time in the booth as a voter was 1974, the year of a gubernatorial race, when Hugh Carey was the victor. I probably voted Socialist Workers that year. I know I voted for the Socialist Workers' candidate, Peter Camejo, not Carter, in 1976, my first presidential election. Over the years I've rarely missed a general election, and hardly any primaries either.
Marking an ephemeral paper ballot last night I truly felt a great sense of loss. And, I suppose, of advancing age.