The older man, partially paralyzed by a stroke, encountered a steep set of stairs on his way to the polling place. Undaunted, determined, he eased himself out of his wheel chair and scooted down the steps, one at a time.
The nearly blind woman made her choices carefully as an election official guided her through the process of operating a portable voting machine.
A widow, who had always gone with her husband to the polls, had to go alone for the first time in some 40 years.
How do I know these stories? Because I was there.
In 2008, I volunteered as a driver for the Obama campaign in Richmond. For two days of in-person absentee voting, plus all day on Election Day, I drove people to their polling places, waited in long lines with them and took them back home.
I heard a lot of very moving stories: The mother who had arranged for child care, but whose ride had forgotten her. The retired man who was voting for the first time in his life, and never dreamed it would be for a fellow African-American. The woman who normally rode public transportation to work, but wouldn’t have made it to the polls, too, because of the bus schedule.
And I learned a lot in those three days. I learned how treasured the right to vote is for each of us. I learned how rewarding a simple thing like giving someone a lift can be. And it was personally gratifying because I know I delivered about a dozen votes for Barack Obama.
There are many volunteer opportunities on Election Day, and you’ll experience your own stories. But most important, you’ll help re-elect Barack Obama, President of the United States.