I have my own traditions on Election Day before I start nervously biting my nails while watching the results roll in. My election morning routine is always the same. I vote when the sun comes up, wash my anxiety down with cheap biscuits and gravy and spend the rest of the day hounding my friends on social media to get out and vote.
Typically, the nervousness I feel on Election Day is that of nervous excitement. This time it was a little more dire. With every action I took throughout my day I had little flashbacks to Election Day 2016. I had an aching feeling that I was in for a similarly bumpy ride.
As the results started to come in from states and districts that were widely considered to be indicators of the election itself, that aching feeling became stronger and stronger. I was worried about Missouri, particularly, because of all the names and initiatives on the ballot that I cared about: Claire McCaskill, Nicole Galloway, political ethics reform and obviously the most important, bingo. That’s right, Missouri had a ballot initiative to allow the advertising of bingo.
Even though Democrats were losing in places like Kentucky and Indiana, I had hope that Missouri’s independent streak would keep it in play. As Missouri finally began to post initial results, it appeared that Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats were positioned to take charge of the house.
However, that hope quickly took a major hit. It wasn’t long before it was projected that Josh Hawley would win and replace Claire McCaskill in the Senate. I expected that sting of defeat would be applicable to Galloway and the progressive ballot initiatives I was watching closely.
Somehow, that sting never came. It turned out that I was right about Missouri’s independent streak, it just didn’t apply where I was most hoping it would. Though we elected a conservative Republican to Senate, we also opted to raise the minimum wage and the legalization of medical marijuana.
Outside of Missouri, there were plenty of races that thrilled me and shocked me. Though the much-hyped “blue wave” was a little more subtle, there were pink and rainbow waves that swept through the country. A record number of women and LGBTQIA+ candidates were elected for the first time to represent constituents in legislatures and governors’ mansions across the country.
I hope this election will also sweep in a new era of election reform. There were too many cases of outdated or nonfunctional voting machines that interfered with thousands of Americans’ ability to cast their vote. Lines to vote across the country were slow-moving and lasted for hours. Too many precincts had to rely on a single voting machine, disenfranchising anyone who doesn’t have the ability to wait three or more hours to use it.
However, though there was reason for disappointment and frustration this Election Day, I truly believe there is even more reason for hope. That hope lies in the voting tradition itself. I feel privileged to live in a country where I know my vote counts for something. Looking around the world at other elections, I feel lucky to be able to vote for my chosen candidate without fear of retribution. It’s comforting to know that at the end of this election cycle when new officials are being transitioned into their offices our democracy will continue to grow.
The results did not go exactly as I’d hoped. However, I know that anything that was decided this Election Day can be changed next Election Day. It’s the cycle and tradition we live in and that so many have fought and died for. So until that day comes, at least I can go to any advertised bingo game in Missouri I can find. Thanks, Missouri voters.