Venice Williams, director of Alice’s Garden and a lay minister, teacher, healer and facilitator, explains why she chose to vote today, on Election Day.
The call has been consistent and clear for these mid-term elections: Vote Early.
I get it. I do understand the multitude of reasons, which have grounded such an urgency, in prompting us to cast our precious vote before Tuesday’s election. I am deeply appreciative of the commitment that has gone into this call to not wait. To do it early and get it done. To not take the risk of the unexpected preventing one from making it to the polls on Tuesday. There is no doubt that much is at stake, and that a reverberating message needs to be sent throughout the state of Wisconsin. From one end to the other of this nation.
Still. I must vote on Election Day. I must take that walk through my city streets, meander down those five or six blocks to my neighborhood school, as I have done for the past 18 years. I yearn to encounter my neighbors on the journey, walking the same path, with a kindred understanding of the sacred complexities that encompasses the moment.
Election Day is also an opportunity to hear about things I may be unaware of in our community, in the lives of my neighbors. During that stroll to or from Samuel Clemens School, I have celebrated graduations and new grandchildren, mourned the passing of fathers and sisters, been invited into backyards to see collard and mustard greens looking healthy and tasty, learned of situations of concern on a given block, or with a particular resident or dwelling. Even if I make my way down those streets during a time that no one else is visible to me, I am visible to them. “I saw you going to vote,” I have so often been told. “It reminded me to get out there.”
I will be excited to enter that school building on Election Day, a space where two of my children were nurtured, emboldened, corrected, applauded. A school where administrators, secretaries, educators, custodians, social workers, a school psychologist, all became part of our family’s village of care and support. I will stop in the office for hugs and updates. I will sign my name on the list to obtain a visitor’s pass to pop my head into familiar classrooms. Sometimes, I even bring a few tokens of appreciation with me, which will never dwindle, for the dedication and love they have offered to thousands of children. I also want some of those neighborhood children to see that Miss Venice took the time to vote. Always, we are teaching.
I complete my ballot in the library or the gym on Election Day, and not at an early voting location, because the ladies are there. You know. The same ladies who have been searching for my name on the voter registration list all of these years. The number of people who make their way into those doors matters to them. I need for them to know their presence matters to me. I thank them.
It may be raining this year. I may walk alone, or my spouse might take the excursion with me. There will be a chill in the air. So be it. I will vote in my corner of this city on Election Day. I will take each step in honor all of those who have made the journey before me. I will mark a path for the generations of neighbors who I am confident will follow. I will not vote early. I will vote, right on time.