by Melinda Gallo

My first Italian vote

Alessandro told me a few days ago that he heard on the radio that I was eligible to vote in the referendum sulla tramvia (referendum on the tram system) because I'm a legal resident. I was excited about voting in Italy for the first time and couldn't wait. The city has been tearing down trees and building the tramvia for a few years now and they finally called upon the citizens of Florence to vote. I heard that the referendum is only consultivo (advisory), which sounds like it won't change anything.

My suocero (father-in-law) picked me up at our apartment and took me to the scuola elementare (elementary school) where we were registered to vote. I was surprised that there were only two other people there to vote. We walked into the room for our district and I headed for the table that said "Donne (Women)." The woman standing there took my carta d'identità (ID card) and looked for my name in the registro (list). I suddenly feared that she wouldn't find my name and that I wasn't eligible to vote at all, but then I spotted my name.

The woman kept my carta d'identità and handed me two ballots along with a pencil. "Puoi andare in quella cabina. (You can go into that booth.)" she said as she pointed to a square booth with a curtain wrapped around it.

I walked in and unfolded the two square ballots. On each one was a descriptive text of the referendum and then the words "Ś" and "No" in small boxes below. It's a good thing I glanced at the posters outside to know that I was supposed to put an X on my vote.

I was surprised to read that we had to vote "Ś" to be against the tramvia and "No" to be for it. It seemed like a good way to ingannare (trick) some people.

I carefully folded the ballots back the way they were handed to me and walked back toward the woman.

There were two big boxes, one with blue trim and the other with light brown trim, on top of the table that the ballots with the same color were put into. The woman handed me my carta d'identità and said, "Arrivederci."

My suocero said that they were impressed with the fact that I was born in California because the woman showed her colleague my carta d'identità and said, "California." I read later in the newspaper that there were over 30,000 stranieri eligible to vote, which surprised me as it seems there are a lot more of us than that.

I don't know if anything will change with the tramvia, but I was happy to express my opinion. Unfortunately, I won't be able to vote in the April elections this year in Italy, but as soon as I'm eligible, I will.

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