After living in the Atlanta metro area for over 20 years, there are a lot of reasons why I was more than happy to move out of the sprawl into a small town some 60 miles away a few years ago. (As I saw the news stories yesterday for the giant cruise ship “Oasis of the Seas,” I thought, my goodness, my whole town will fit aboard that ship at one time.)
In contrast to the lines in Atlanta, there are seldom any election-day lines here. This morning I was in an out of the polling place in five minutes, and that counted the time I took chatting to the people I knew. I never saw anyone I knew at an Atlanta polling place.
Here, I know the mayor and the members of the city council. A friend is running for the city council, but even in a small town there are wards, and his seat doesn’t extend to this part of town. I know the city clerk and the city manager. I’ve worked with them, seen them at weddings and funerals, had them over for parties.
Of course, the close-knit nature of things here can lead to a strange apathy. A friend who ran for council two elections ago lost by six votes because a lot of people in her neighborhood didn’t vote. Each had an excuse–at kid was sick, car trouble, the boss made them stay late at work. But oddly, none of them worried about the vote because everyone assumed they were the only ones that were playing hooky from the election.
One way or the other, here you know you’re making a difference. You can see the fact that your vote counts; and you can see the consequences of not voting. I like that because none of us feel like we’re getting lost in the shuffle.