>It’s funny, but I was absent for my first time. I turned 18 in December 1993, a year too late to legally get in on the action. By the time my next chance to put out came around, I was already away at college.

Thus my first voting experience was by absentee ballot. I received a long rectangular ballot on a thin Styrofoam block in the mail. The instructions said to use a sharp object to punch a hole for the candidates for whom I chose to vote. The Styrofoam backing ensured that you punched out the entire chad. (If you don’t bust through the Styrofoam, you didn’t push it in enough.) I sent my form back to Cook County, proud to have taken part in a coming-of-age ritual that people practiced early and often, and with more reliability than the rhythm method.

Now I vote in New York City, a location boasting some of the oldest voting machines in the country with all sorts of levers and pulleys to manipulate to ensure that your vote is recorded. We are way out of compliance with federal laws on updating voting machines to ensure that voting is as easy as the town whore. Sure, with electronic voting machines these days, you have no idea who the machine claims that you really voted for, as many of the companies produced faulty coding on accident or on purpose (Diebold promised a Republican victory in 2004), and you usually can’t print a receipt for the ballot box. But if you don’t vote, you have the right to bitch about how fucked up things are in this country.

Even if you think your vote doesn’t count (and sadly, you are kind of correct), it is important to get out there on election day. Voting is like foreplay. Change won’t come if people don’t try and press the right buttons.

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