The Sacred Secret Ballot
Yesterday, as you know, we went to New Hampshire to canvass for Barack Obama (and for Jean Shaheen, who's running for Senate there). It's very useful to take a cute 9-year-old along with you when you canvass; nearly everyone is willing to speak to you.
At one house, when I asked the woman whether she was planning on voting, she flashed me a beautiful smile and said, "Yes, for the first time." (From her accent and her last name, I guessed her to be a newly-naturalized citizen, possibly from a country in Africa.) Naturally I congratulated her.
I then asked the next question we were supposed to ask: "Have you decided for whom you're going to vote?"
"Yes," she said. Pause.
"Would you tell me?" I asked.
She gave me an even bigger smile, and said, "No; I don't have to."
I agreed, gave her some Obama & Shaheen literature, shook her hand again, and went to the next house.
So, okay, I'm a fiction writer, so I make up stories about people. In my imagination, this lady comes from a country where her vote isn't secret, where she would have to tell people how she voted. In my imagination, she's reveling in the fact that she can keep her vote secret, even to a friendly guy like me.
It was worth the whole trip.