AP Photo/The Joplin Globe, Roger Nomer
Katie Miller, left, receives a ballot and instructions from Sally Hughes at a polling station at the Galena City Hall in Galena, Kan., on Tuesday Nov. 6, 2012.

I have voted in every presidential election since I turned 18. The locations may have been different, a school building one year, a church building the next. But there have been several things that remain constant in my voting process — a process that I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in but have never really valued until now. As I walked into the building where I am registered to vote today, I was greeted by a volunteer. Usually they are of retirement age and have big smiles on their faces.

Today, it was a silver-haired gentleman who welcomed me with a large grin and smiling brown eyes. The volunteer thanked me for coming out to vote today and pointed me in the proper direction to the sign-in table. Unlike other election days, today the sign-in table was lined with several computers. A kind, older woman sitting behind the table asked me for my driver’s license, scanned the back of it and then asked me to sign my name on the clipboard lying to my left.

Unlike so many others voting today, I did not have to wait in a long line. As I was in the process of putting my driver’s license back into my wallet, another silver-haired volunteer smiled at me and said that a booth was open. While walking to the open booth, I was greeted by yet another friendly faced volunteer who explained the machine to me.

Standing at the black booth, looking at the ballot and reading the names of the candidates I was to vote for, I felt a wonderful sense of pride fill my heart. Although I have voted many times before, today was the first time that I felt my vote was truly important. Today I felt as if this one push of a button could really make a difference in the future of my life, my children’s lives, and our country. I carefully read through each name and pushed the square on the screen next to the ones I felt impressed to cast my vote for. After reviewing my list and pushing the confirm button on the screen, I thanked the gentleman who was assisting at the booths and walked away.

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The time it took me to walk in the door, sign my name and cast my vote was only about a total of 10 minutes. It took me longer to drive to the voting location than it did to vote. But as I walked toward the exit sign and was handed my “I Voted” sticker by the last of my friendly volunteers, I smiled too. I removed the backing off the sticker and proudly placed it on my shirt. In years past my sticker either ended up on one of my children’s shirts or in the trash can. In years past I thought the stickers were stupid and didn’t want to bother putting them on. This year feels different. This year I put the sticker on and proudly display it. This year I plan on wearing the sticker on my shirt for the rest of the day. This year I am proud of being a voter. This year I really believe that my vote will make a difference.

Debbie Haslam lives in Wichita, Kansas. She is a stay-at-home mother to four children and an active member in her church and community. Email: haslammom@sbcglobal.net