Photo: Panama Jackson (Very Smart Brothas)

Today is Tuesday, June 19, in the year of our Lord 2018. In Washington, D.C., it’s primary voting day. That, and there’s a very hotly contested initiative (Initiative 77) on the ballot to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020, which would gradually raise the minimum wage for tipped employees to the same $15 an hour by 2026. The minimum wage would also increase according to the Consumer Price Index each year.

I like voting day in D.C. for a few reasons: 1) It’s Washington, D.C., so voting is kind of a thing here; but more importantly, 2) It’s how I get to see the changing demographics of my neighborhood. I live in a predominantly black neighborhood, and one that’s likely to stay this way for a while, though the numbers are definitely changing slowly. But almost every time I go vote, I see mostly white people. I don’t know if I pick the white hour to vote or something—and I try to vary it up—but it never ceases to amaze me what the voting populace around here looks like.

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I also like voting because I believe that you can’t complain about anything if you don’t do your civic duty (if you’re able to do so) and vote, and when I see a need for change, I try to engage. I stay up on the issues and who the candidates are and do my best to make as informed decisions as possible. I like to be responsible with my touch screen activism.

But you know what? I really, really be voting to get my voting sticker, too. I mean, I vote for all the right reasons, but I really, really look forward to getting my sticker at the end. In fact, today, when I went in, I made sure I saw a spool of stickers somewhere that had enough stickers to hand to me when I left because I never want to feel like I did a few years back when I cast my ballot and ...

And ...

And ... they didn’t have anymore “I Voted” stickers. I stood there, waiting for something to change. Looking for some valiant hero to come jogging or walking briskly and say, “Wait, young man, here’s your sticker for the ’gram.” But that didn’t happen. The volunteer—who could see the disgust, confusion and sadness on my face—tried to console me, but, I mean, the order of operations is, I vote, then they hand me a sticker. The social contract was broken, and I was an unhappy camper. It still chafes my chaps to this day.

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I realize it’s just a sticker, but the truth is, that sticker is a signal to everybody else that I did my part. Folks proudly rock their stickers on voting day as a symbol of their having used that opportunity, for which all of our ancestors died, to be a part of the citizenry. And you’d think that, after Trump was elected, we’d all do our parts not to let 2016 happen again. My sticker puts other folks on notice. Like, I notice them noticing my sticker. And then I can put them on notice that I noticed their sticker, too.

Then I get to flex for the ’gram and the ’book and silently shame the folks who talk all that big shit who haven’t done it yet but plan to after work ... because they want their sticker, too. It’s a nice little incentive that I take seriously. Again, I don’t vote to get an “I Voted” sticker ... but I definitely want my “I Voted” sticker to prove that I voted.

Rock the vote, y’all. And get your sticker.

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