Special Ballots

In 2016, I took my two young daughters to early voting at the Alerus Center along with other members of the North Dakota Women’s Network.  After I cast my ballot for the first woman to attain the presidential nomination from a major political party, we met with other NDWN members and their families for dinner.  I made special ballots for the kids to have their own “election”  and then my daughters helped me count the votes.

Cynthia Prescott

A Privilege and A Joy

I have been a voter for the past forty years…time truly does fly!  In all of those years, I have never missed a presidential election and have rarely missed an opportunity to vote during midterms, or for any state and local election.  I take voting very seriously.  This “seriousness” may be why I had a little trouble writing about the “joy” of voting.  It’s always so serious for me!

I am choosing, however, to write about the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections when Barack Obama became the first African American president, and went on to serve two terms.  Obama’s elections, and my ability to vote for him, allowed me to feel like I was part of a cultural shift.  A shift that was a very long time in coming.  I was elated when he won in 2008, and relieved in 2012.  Although I am a white, Norwegian American woman, I felt that I was finally able to vote for someone who represented me.  Skin color was not the defining characteristic, nor was gender.  Voting for Obama was voting for someone I felt believed in free and fair public education.   My vote for Obama symbolized, for me, a leader who would move the country forward towards greater inclusivity and opportunity for all.  Voting for Obama was voting for an intelligent, thoughtful, respectful, articulate, global minded and empathetic person who would represent not only me, but this country on the world stage in a way that I could be proud of.   These were actually extremely “joyful” votes for me to cast…now that I think about it.

I believe in this country and the journey we have been on for 200 plus years.  I believe in the goodness of Americans and I look forward to casting my next vote in November 2018.  It really is a privilege, and a joy, to vote!

Tori Johnson


I vividly remember my first time voting. I was a senior in high school, and I went on my lunch break to cast my ballot. When I got back to school, the first person I saw in the hall was the principal. I remember being struck by the fact that I just participated in a process where my voice counted as much as his. That was invigorating. I just participated in a process where I was completely equal with community leaders, with my parents, with people of all professions and backgrounds, and it made me excited to do it again in the next election.

Jonathan Holth

Church Ladies

We’d carefully planned the night. It was our first time voting and we weren’t going to get it wrong.  We’d looked up our polling station location online – a church about a half mile from the house – and we triple checked that our ids were stuffed in the pockets of our coats.

We arrived to the smiling faces of elderly church ladies who flipped through sheets of paper, rows and rows of inked up names of my brand new neighbors. I remember thinking about how much I felt like part of my new community at that moment. This was only just a place on a map, but through my vote, I got to help choose the people who would work to make it a home.

After I ticked the requisite boxes with a 10-cent Bic pen, one of the church ladies smooshed an “I voted” sticker onto my cheek. The streetlights flicked on just as we stepped outside and made the half-mile walk back to our first house.

Becca Cruger



I remember waiting in a long voting line in Gamble Hall when I was a student at UND in 1980 when new voting booths were installed.  It was a quaint booth with a curtain for privacy and the curtain would automatically fly open when the voter was finished.  Each voter was taking a fairly long time so when it was my turn, I thought I would get equal time.  Well, I cast my first vote for President of the United States and VROOM!!! The curtain opened! I wasn’t done yet! The booth attendant wouldn’t let me proceed to complete my ballot.  Sheepishly, I had to make my way past the throngs of people who found some humor at my expense.

Terry Brenner

Euphoric Grin

I can still picture the euphoric grin that was plastered on my face after casting my ballot for a truly groundbreaking candidate in a presidential primary.  Knowing that my vote was helping make history was exhilarating and empowering.

Nikki Berg Burin


My first opportunity to vote in a “real” election was November, 1972 in St. Regis, Montana. Yes, I remember Richard Nixon winning big over George McGovern, but the memory that serves best is the flags. There were two U.S. flags flying at the entrance of the polling place, and as a young government teacher, all that I had prepared for became very real to me.

Mike Berg

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