After months of thought, it felt great to vote early. Even though I had a peculiar reaction myself, I hope you’ll join me and get to the polls early. My reaction included a flood of powerful emotions when I stepped into the morning air from the polling spot. Tears filled my eyes, which never happened before.

I admit being a sucker for a tearjerker movie like the reruns of Rudy which appear every year about this time, but voting? Then it dawned on me: before this election, all my years of voting came mostly from my head. This time, the issues touched my heart more personally than any other. More of my skin was in the game.

For example, in preparing for this election season, I’ve done more research than even during those elections when I coached candidates on stump speeches. Today’s controversies propelled deeper investigation. This included reviewing demographic facts and re-discovering forgotten historic details. My research revealed all kinds of positive and negative information about our voting evolution ─ a process which continues today.

My study reminded me that voting laws, including those related to voting privacy, are set by each state instead of the Constitution. During the first 100 years of our country, it was different. Votes were public; and a vote on the wrong side of the power grid could be ruinous.

While applauding the privacy laws which minimize corruption, in private, I find great value discussing politics. I like hearing what friends I respect are thinking and exploring different points of view. Not everyone feels this way, though, as I was reminded at a recent dinner party. A friend abstained from uttering a word about her points of view, saying, “I don’t discuss politics with friends.”

If politics are off limits with friends, it puzzles me, where can you discuss issues?

My research also led me to the darker side of voter laws, such as those related to restrictive voter registration. It seems that as soon as one such law is abolished, others appear.

I also wondered about folks who won’t vote, who say it doesn’t matter. Were they correct? No. I learned that several significant elections have been decided by one vote.

Like our speaking voices and written words, actions we take send a message to the world. Voting is an action and a major reason I value being a citizen of this country. Besides determining who is in office, it expresses my respect for the contributions of the determined people who made this country and its ideals possible.

What do I want you to take away from these thoughts? The idea that communication extends far beyond the typical company meeting I so often reference. These are just starting points.

You can find respectful methods to talk about divisive issues. Study for yourself different points of view, to explore what’s underneath the surface. Voting is like the collective chorus our spirits sing as human beings. It communicates and can change the course of history. Most of all, let’s none of us take our voices, including voting, for granted.