Four years ago, I was a freshman in college just north of Chicago. I had sent my absentee ballot in weeks before and was anxiously awaiting the results. My dorm had a massive watch party in our great room, with CNN on the projection screen and all of the residents sitting around with our laptops discussing possible outcomes of every possible election in the country. When the presidential election was called, I was out in the hall calling a friend with updates. A music major busted out the piano and started playing "Don't Stop Believing." A few of us went outside and could hear the cheers from Grant Park. After McCain's concession speech and Obama's victory speech, about forty of us jumped into Lake Michigan and were subsequently given warnings by the city police for being on a public beach after sunset.
It was worth it.
This year, I'm in South Carolina. I sent in my absentee ballot weeks ago and am anxiously awaiting the results. I'll be watching the results alone but still connected with friends around the world as we discuss the possible outcomes. A friend who is studying abroad in London is staying up until the wee hours of the morning just to watch the results come in. I imagine I'll be in touch with my family when results are announced as well.
The circumstances are different than four years ago. We are facing new challenges as a country and still facing some lingering ones. I don't think anything will ever top the memories I have of 2008's election night, but it was my first national election to vote in and only my second-ever vote. I am more cautious this year, more concerned with what the future might hold, more informed about the social, political, and economic issues that face us today. A few weeks ago, I cast my ballot for the candidates I believe in.
And tonight we find out together who will be representing us in the highest governmental offices. Whatever the outcome, it is my sincerest hope that everyone made their voice heard where it counts: not on the internet with its constant barrage of noise, but at the polling place.
Happy Election Day. I hope this thing's decided by tomorrow.