By Lisa Horn, SHRM’s Senior Government Relations Advisor

Early Voting Line in MD

Friday, I joined hundreds of others in my community at the local library to participate in early voting. While I’ve been fortunate to never experience long lines on Election Day, I thought early voting would “free up” my Tuesday to focus on project deadlines for the week. I admit there was a certain level of excitement to finally cast my ballot in what has felt like the never-ending race for the White House.

So there I was on a chilly afternoon, unprepared for the gusty winds or the 3-hour wait in line, 2.5 hours of which was spent outside! You see, from the back of the library parking lot where the line started, you couldn’t tell that the line didn’t feed directly into the library, but rather snaked around  before finally entering the building! It was only after 45 minutes or so in line that I (and my fellow voters) realized that this was going to take much longer than expected, but that I had come too far to turn back now.

While I was certainly cold in that line, it was warming to see so many of my fellow Marylanders participating in our democratic process, and doing so under less-than-ideal conditions.

Three hours is also plenty of time to get to know your line-mates. The high school teacher and I helped dispel several “myths” the 19-year-old college student and first time voter believed to be “truths” about casting your ballot (for example, you can’t vote for candidates from different parties, that she read on Facebook.) She suggested she was only going to fill in her selection for president and nothing more; I explained how her local, state and federal office holders were lawmakers responsible for public policy that directly impacted her, and, therefore, she should have a say in her representation at all levels of government.

I was impressed with the enthusiasm and anticipation this young lady felt as we slowly inched our way toward the ballot box. The mudslinging and negative political ads, after all, could understandably lessen one’s enthusiasm for this process. But when I asked her to describe her first voting experience, she smiled and said “liberating.” Her response helped me forget how cold I was and instead got me thinking how fortunate I was to have the right to vote.

So fellow voters, Election Day is nearly here. Will your voice be heard?

SHRM’s Have a Voice campaign encourages HR professionals to Get Out the Vote while ensuring the human resource perspective is heard on November 6 and beyond. We all know this is an important election and Tuesday’s results will no doubt impact the future of HR public policy issues in our nation’s capital and in state houses across this country.

Rest assured the SHRM Government Affairs team will be analyzing election-day returns to decipher the impact on HR issues going forward. Our Post-Election Outlook report has become the resource for HR professionals interested in understanding the “hot” issues and leadership changes in the U.S. House, U.S. Senate as well as State Legislatures. We’ll publish this not-to-be-missed analysis during the SHRM Leadership Conference, November 15-17, 2012.

So on the eve of Election Day 2012, recall the pointed words of Thomas Jefferson when he reminded us all that “We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.” Get ready, get set, and go vote tomorrow, even if you have to stand in line, and wear your “I Voted” sticker proudly – I am!

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