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  • Writer's pictureBethany Crystal

In the name of civic duty

Is it bad to cut in line to cast a vote? This was the ethical conundrum I felt as I waited in line at the polls.

I’ve never seen it like this before. Every other time I’ve voted, I’ve walked right in and walked right out. Of course this was the time I had a flight to catch. The polls opened at 6; my flight left JFK at 8. Was it cutting it too close?

The problem of course is that there are multiple lines; an entry line, a line to get your ballot, a line to cast it, and a line to submit it.

I was really trying not to be that girl. But with every added line I got a little more frantic, then finally I had to pull my trump card:

“But I have a plane to catch!”

I felt bad pretty much as soon as I said it. I know what people were thinking: We all have places to be, honey. You’re not the only one who was waiting outside at 5:55 am for the polls to open. This entitled crap is exactly the problem with your generation today.

They aren’t wrong.

But as soon as you pull that card, the “hurry, hurry, woe is me” line, you can’t go back. You have to own it. Suddenly everything is an emergency. Every minute is a potential threat.

I got escorted to a shorter line for the privacy screen by one volunteer, then was chastised by another for being in the disabilities line. Still, I stood my ground. The woman behind me loaned me her pen. I didn’t give it back. To cast my ballot, a line of already 40 people long, I asked one woman if I could please cut in front.

She looked at me, rolled her eyes, and sighed. “In the name of civic duty, I suppose so.” She grimaced. I thanked her and heard her turn to the woman behind her: “I mean, she has a suitcase, I believe her. At least she’s voting.”


So yes, this morning, I was that girl at the polls with the suitcase, the one cutting in front of you in line, the one freaking out and panicking, lest I lose my opportunity to offer my opinion.

But at least I voted. And in case you see “that girl” at a polling place near you today, please do me a favor and pay it forward. It feels nice to be nice to each other today.

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