6 Things To Do While Waiting for Hours To Vote (Which Is Outrageous)

Photo: Getty Images / TIMOTHY A. CLARY / Contributor
Historically, registered voters neglect to cast their ballot because of long lines that look like a winning game of Snake, and unfortunately, the lines are slated to be bigger than ever due to countrywide cases of voter suppression. Not enough voting machines, not enough locations for mail-in ballots—hell, even the inherent fact that there are long lines is voter suppression because not everyone has the luxury of spending four hours waiting to vote. But after this year and the last four years of absolute chaos, there's an even bigger urge to make your voice heard. If you're waiting in line to vote, how do you keep calm, entertained, and strong?

Experts In This Article

Well, begin with recognizing how important it is to vote if you can. According to psychotherapist Jennifer Teplin, LCSW, the best thing you could do while killing time waiting to vote is to remember your why.

"This world can be a scary place for many right now and bringing yourself back to your core reason for voting will re-inspire you during the waiting process," says Teplin. "While online to vote I'm sure you'll encounter those of similar view points, as well as those whose differ and my biggest recommendation is to remain focused on your why. Don't allow others opinions to sway you, don't allow others judgements to shame you and continue on your path to have your voice heard."

So there's your motivation. Now as how to keep busy while you wait to cast your ballot, we have a few suggestions...

What to do while waiting in line to vote

1. Donate

If you have the financial bandwidth, nows a great moment to donate to any causes looking to fight for voting rights for all. The Brennan Center for Justice  does this in a three prong method by advocating for voter reform, ending voter suppression, and restoring voter rights for those with a criminal history. Likewise, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has a number of campaigns that work towards creating racial equity, specifically their Election Protection coalition which watches out for any obstacles that might keep Americans from voting.

2. Repeat a calming mantra

"When walking into a potentially anxiety provoking situation I always like to have a mantra—ahead of going to vote ,come up with a sentence that you can bring yourself back to in moment of stress," Teplin says.

3. Read a book (or several)

It might be a little pretentious if you show up with a giant copy of War and Peace, although there's probably no better time to finish such a monolith. For what it's worth, e-book platform Scribd is opening their library with a 30-day free trial from now through election day, so you can absorb some knowledge right off your screen.

4. Breathe

Given that our perennial 2020 mood is "stressed the f--k out," it's always appropriate to calm down with some intentional breathes. Give your nervous system a rest with a breathing exercise such as the five-breath reset.

5. Listen to a podcast

I'm proud to report that I've listen to zero podcast recommendations this year; I don't need listen to two people having a conversation without me for an hour. But I recognize they can give others some genuine comfort. If you're one of those folks, put on your mainstay or check out any of our faves for health, finance, or sex and relationships. Or just listening to the niche podcast on scams your bestie has been texting you about for...three months.

6. Make a gratitude list

No gratitude list is too big or too small, but to keep it simple you can collect with Teplin calls "Golden Nuggets." All you need to do is take a present moment to name two or three little things you enjoyed over the day.

Actually, if your morning involved waking up and getting on a gigantic line, maybe it's best to expand to a limitless amount of golden nuggets, and broaden the scope to all of 2020. It's been a nightmare year, but challenge yourself in finding those bright spots that helped us get to this point. Hopefully, the wait will be worth it.


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