Don’t worry, this isn’t a political ad for a candidate or proposition. If you live anywhere in the United States I suspect you’re completely fed up with political ads. And while my friends all know my political beliefs, I don’t do them online. But I proudly, very proudly, will talk about just how excited I am to vote.

Yes, I’m excited. Despite nervousness about the results of some races, I’m ready to be a citizen and vote on Tuesday morning. Call me corny, call me sappy, but I love to vote!

My love of voting comes from my parents; they felt voting was a privilege and responsibility, and they loved it. Even though they normally drove to work in separate cars, on election day they would pack my brother and me into a car, and together, the four of us would “vote.” My mother would take me into her voting booth, and my father would take my brother into his. We got to watch them vote, and at times, they would explain why they were voting for someone (looking back, I suspect some of the other voters in line weren’t thrilled with how long my parents took to vote). This was back in the days of older voting booths — way before punch cards or touch panels. My mother would let me pull the lever that registered her vote. It was almost as if I was voting myself.

When I finally was eligible to vote for the first time, even though I was in college in another state, I took a couple days off, went home, and voted in the morning with my mother and father. I still remember that day, and even though my candidate lost, it’s lovely to think of that shared experience with my parents.

My parents are both gone now, but their love of voting has stayed with me. I currently live in a state that doesn’t offer routine early voting. But even if mine did, I’m not convinced I would do so. The routine of voting on the way to work on election day is just that strong.

Over the years I’ve developed some rituals for major elections. Either today or tomorrow I’ll locate a sample ballot online and will begin doing some research. While I know who I’ll vote for in the major races (President, Senate, House of representatives), I’m fuzzy about some of the state propositions and candidates for State supreme court, to say nothing about people running for the many local offices and university boards.

On Tuesday morning I’ll take my completed sample ballot with me when I go to my polling place (a high school about a half-mile from where I live). Once I vote, I’ll head to work, but will leave a few hours early. No, the polls won’t have closed yet, so there will be no results, but I need to stock up on supplies for a long night. I don’t normally keep a lot of snack foods around, but for election night I give myself permission to indulge. Since I won’t know what sounds good until that day, it’ll be a surprise. I usually sneak in some “healthy” snacks(raw veggies & dip or fruit), but other than that, I’ll wait until the day to see what sounds good. Pringles? Nuts? Cheese and crackers? I’m just not sure. I’ll decide on Tuesday afternoon. I’ll definitely have a bottle of sparkling wine chilling in the refrigerator should my candidate for President win. If he doesn’t, I’ll save the bottle for Thanksgiving.

Once I arrive home I’ll print out various strategies as to which states each candidate for President “must” win, and will check those off over the night. I’ll have an early dinner (homemade soup cooked over the weekend) and will then get ready for some election night viewing. I’ll have my laptop nearby so I can check for online results as well as the coverage on TV. Once the returns begin at 8pm my time, I’ll be switching back and forth between various channels to decide which coverage I prefer this year. Too many silly gadgets and I’ll ignore a channel. Annoying panelists and I’ll avoid a channel.

That’s it. I’ll stay up until there’s a winner (and in 2000 that meant I stayed up all night and still had no winner). If my candidate for President doesn’t win, I’ll go to bed immediately. If my candidate wins, I’ll stay up for hours watching the analysis, as well as information on the other elections.

Do you have any election-day traditions? Do you wait to vote on election day, or do you vote early?

-LinnieGayl