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Every voice counts at polls

There are people out there who have said if you don't know enough about the issues at stake in Tuesday's elections, don't vote.

Thumb your nose at all of them.

I found the rebuttal to all those who think they are more important than the rest, more American than others, right under my nose.

In the line to vote.

South Carolina technically has no early voting. We have absentee voting. At the elections office in York, the line to vote absentee snaked from the counter down a hallway, through two glass doors and out to the parking lot. All the way to the back of the lot, then into the grass and onto the sidewalk. Then down the sidewalk.

The wait was more than an hour. I heard not a single person moan or complain. The line included people pushing baby strollers, people in wheelchairs, the old with canes and the young with piercings in ears, noses, faces, tongues and places that I thankfully could not see. One guy had so many tattoos, I couldn't tell where his arms ended and his shirt began.

In the old days, some states, counties, cities and towns that didn't want the poor or black sullying the vote had poll taxes and questionnaires.

That kept people who the smart decided weren't as smart as the smart from voting.

It took until as recently as the 1960s to abolish that nonsense forever.

Those who don't want anyone to vote because they haven't studied tax policy or anything else are just as vile as those old laws -- and maybe worse.

I chased after two ladies who voted. They had waited almost two hours. Macie Armstrong and her daughter Tamara. It was Tamara's first time voting. Her face looked like she had been elected president.

"I did something for my country today," she said.

Her mother works third shift. She had been on her feet all night. Then she stood in line to vote.

I asked Macie Armstrong if the wait on her feet was worth it, and she said, "Every minute!"

Then I noticed a lady waiting by herself, not in line, and wondered why she would wait and not vote.

"I voted Tuesday," said Gerrie Swaringen. "I came here today to bring a co-worker to vote."

Swaringen lost pay twice, to vote and help another vote. Asked why she would do such a thing, Swaringen retorted in an instant classic line: "My vote is my payment. Worth more than money."

In America, when you turn 18, you have the right to vote. You take no test. You pass no muster. You get no license. You just register and vote if you want for whatever reason, without precondition, without knowledge requirements of any kind, for whomever you choose.

Those who vote decide who leads, and those who don't vote let others decide for them.

I do not know the knowledge levels of all those York County people waiting in line to vote. I frankly did not care. I just leaned against the hood of my old car and stared at them. I don't mind telling you I started crying over what a terrific country I live in.

Voting is the one time that every man and woman has as much power, and influence, in making this country as great as it can be as the CEO of Exxon/Mobil.

Those people in line were white and black, young and old, Hispanic and Asian, broke and flush. I saw a church van leave, windows filled with faces of hope.

Magnificent. Wondrous. Captivating and incredible. I couldn't find the right word.

Made me think about someone Wednesday who, when asked about the historic election, might state to their children: "Didn't bother. Rearranged my sock drawer. Played video games. Watched Andy Griffith reruns. Spent time in Internet chat rooms."

Then a lady walked by me. A woman called out to her: "Who did you vote for?"

The lady turned and said, "None of your business. This is America!"

And I then I knew what to call these magnificent, wondrous, captivating, incredible voters who will be joined Tuesday by so many of us.

Americans.

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