UNITED STATES—It has been one hell of an election year in my opinion. I cannot recall the last time things were so contentious, so hotly debated and people being energized about voting. I mean I thought things were bad in 2008, when Barack Obama was battling for the presidency against John McCain. Hmm, 2016, is proving to be another important race, as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump did battle to become the next President of the United States of America.

Beyond the candidates, I want to talk a bit about the voting process because getting to the polls for some is not always easy. However, once you get to the poll that’s where the important stuff happens. I got up super early on Election Day. Why? Well, it’s my civic duty to vote, but in addition to that I had to juggle class, work and more work. Yeah, juggling 2 jobs while going to school is no easy task, I mean there is only 24 hours in a single day.

I was at my polling location by 6:45 a.m., yes, people 6:45 a.m., and I was already amazed by the turnout. The parking lot, the side streets, full of cars! There was a small line in the building about 60 people already waiting to fill out paperwork to prepare to vote. My head immediately started spinning; I assumed that by getting to the polls early I would have an edge on things. It looks like everyone was thinking the same thing. So after a few minutes of waiting in line, the polls officially open and we’re able to get in line to cast ballots. Within a matter of MINUTES, the line was out the door and stretched down the street for people waiting to get inside to cast their ballot.

I did do my research a few days before heading to the polls to find out what was going to be on the ballot, but there were still a few things that threw me completely off. No matter how hard you prepare, sometimes you can never be prepared enough. This may have been the longest ballot I can recall during an election year, since I’ve been voting since the age of 18. I mean it took me nearly 20 minutes to complete my ballot, and it seemed like the time frame was echoed for those next to me casting their ballots. So after a little over 2 hours, I successfully voted. I’m a proud American people; the smile on my face is gleeful.

However, I’m not just happy because I voted, I’m happy because the massive turnout I witnessed during the wee hours of the day. The ability to vote, as I’ve stated time and time again is a right so many people died to have. So for those of us who have that right to vote, we should not abuse it, we should not take it for granted. If you can vote, there is no excuse to not vote, especially if you don’t have to work. If someone who is juggling school full-time and working 2 jobs can find a way to cast a ballot, so can you.

I heard SO MANY people tell me I’m not voting because my vote doesn’t matter! That is a load of BS, and what’s worse is the fact that so many people take this right for granted where there are countries where many and a vast majority of the population can’t vote. And you’re not voting because? I don’t get that reasoning and to be frank, keep that load of crap to yourself! Perhaps if you endured being attacked by vicious dogs, being beaten, hosed with water or in some cases killed trying to cast a vote, more people would appreciate the opportunity they are given to vote.

What made me ecstatic on Election Day was seeing so MANY YOUNG PEOPLE come out to vote. I mean the turnout at my polling location had me floored. After leaving my polling location, the lines just continued to build and build throughout the day. People not only performed a civic duty, but were excited and eager to vote. Voting can be nerve-wrecking if you’re a first time voter. Questions pop into your head about how to vote, rather you did it correctly and questioning rather people will look at you like you’re an idiot.

I will admit I have been waiting for November 9, 2016 to arrive for one major reason: no major political ads people. Yes, we’ve been inundated with these things for months; to be honest it seems like years. I recall ads running as early as 2015. Well, we don’t have to worry about that anymore people. The one thing I have to point out is that I was surprised to see people older than myself for the first time casting a ballot. That did slightly disturb me, I mean I was so adamant that the voting age should have been adjusted to age 16, but it struck me, a voter is a voter, first time or repeat voter, the fact that they voted is what matters people.

Let it be important to teach your children at an earlier age, just how important the right to vote is. Regardless of the result, the fact that Americans are hitting the polls in record numbers is an indicator that people do indeed care about voting and it’s something that can have long lasting effects on their lives and their children’s lives.