Voting Plans & Visitations
Some small ways to prepare for the primaries and the general elections.
One of the things that was stressful when my mother died was the thought of going back home for her memorial celebration and seeing a lot of people who I hadn't seen since long before my transition. I'm going to say before anyone gets worried on my behalf that everybody was lovely, and I didn't particularly expect anyone to not be. It's just that things like that can hang over your head until they happen. Add to that the usual worries about going through a new situation in a new place and I had a lot of anxiety that I didn't have the bandwidth to deal with, given that I was also grieving.
Two of the ways I dealt with included reaching out to a friend who came and basically held my hand through it, and while she accompanied me we went to check out the venue for the celebration the day before. It was being held in the event space of a local German-American society that on Friday evenings invites the public to come dine with them in their Ratskellar (literally "council cellar" but basically a "beer basement" or underground pub.) So the day before the gathering, we went and had beer and brats in the basement of the building, which gave me a chance to just sort of feel out the lay of the land, see what the place looked like, and just... be there, before anyone else was and without anyone expecting anything of me.
Experts in voting and the getting out thereof say that one of the biggest factors in actual participation is making a voting plan. Asking people to write out or describe their plan for election day is a handy Get Out The Vote strategy because it gets people to commit in their own mind to voting, and also makes sure they know what they're doing. A lot of first time voters and people who haven't voted regularly or have changed locations trip over the whole anxiety of "What is expected of me? Where do I go? How do I get there?"
A lot of states have their primaries coming up in the relatively near future so it's not too soon for any of us to think about our voting plans for those days. (Though it is admittedly too late for some us.) In addition to planning, though, and inspired by my experience, I'm going to make another suggestion for anyone who is feeling nervous: go pay your polling location a visit before your state's primary. It may or may not be a public place you can get into, but you can still go by and check out the lay of the land, see where parking or public transportation is, and just basically establish the place in your mind as a real place that you can go to, when the time comes to vote.
This is a little thing and it may not be something that everyone would benefit from doing. But as the election year goes on and we think about what we can do, little things and things that benefit some if not all people are going to be a lot of what we come up with.
If you get nothing else out of this, you can make a voting plan for yourself and suggest it to anyone else who you know wants to vote but is feeling uncertain about it. The fate of the republic and more are at state, but that doesn't mean "suck it up and get over it" will work any more than it usually does, which is not much.