I arrived at my polling place about 6:30 this morning, under a gloomy, humid sky, and a pleasant November chill in the air. I was surprised to find only a few parking spaces left. Surprised because in my 17 years of voting at this polling place, there’s never been more than a handful of people in front of me to vote. Today there were 40. At 6:30 in the morning. A lot of them with umbrellas. I was trying to detect who would vote for who, but I gave up and resigned myself to the realization that casting a vote, that greatest of gifts the Founding Fathers left us, is as personal as the brand of toothpaste you use.
They’d moved the polling place to another building in the same complex, behind the old trailer that had been used for years. Pleasant company, a bunch of kids with their moms running around. I went inside at 7:55 AM, took five minutes to find my name and get the paperwork, filled in the ballot, and left by 8:10. Can you guess who I voted for?
Folks, there are going to be long lines all day today. Be patient. This is a great right and privilege we have in this country. Go vote. It is your sacred duty to yourself and to your children’s future.
Update by Robert:
I’d like to piggy-back on George’s post since my experiences this morning were eerily similar to his. I arrived at suburban southwestern Miami Precinct 769 in Portable H just after 630 AM with about 35 to 40 people in front of me. Folks were mostly quiet with general conversation floating around in the misty and pleasantly cool morning air. No loud or boisterous political talk, just a few women wearing McCain/Palin paraphenelia, and a woman clutching her rosary as she waited in line. A reporter from local NPR affilliate WLRN was there as well, apparently because my precinct happens to be split 50/50 between Republicans and Democrats. A battleground precinct in a battleground state: who would have thought I lived in a micro-battleground! Anyway, at around 650 AM, I heard the reporter ask: “Are there any Obama supporters here?”. After a few seconds of total silence, a gentleman about 6-7 people behind me started to blurt out all sorts of stuff about the war and oil going to China, etc. etc., blah blah blah. An angry liberal. WLRN surely got some good sound bytes, but most of the people in line just murmured in a combination of amusement and disgust. The guy later commented that he wanted to move to “a liberal place like Virginia”. I couldn’t help but chuckle.
“So many people voting on pure emotion instead of logic and reason”, I remarked to a middle-aged gentleman right behind me. He agreed.
For me, Election Day is and has always been a sacred day. No early voting, if I can at all help it. Precinct workers are always a little surprised to find me smiling and offering a hearty “Good Morning” at the crack of dawn when I walk into the portable to register. I can’t help it. Election Day is a wonderful day simply because I get to do what so many Americans take for granted: choose our leaders. My parents, grandparents and other relatives lost that ability when Cuba was gripped by dictators in the prime of their lives. Because of my family’s history, I will NEVER EVER take this day for granted, and neither should you.
Finally, I did something that I have never done on Election Day. I drove a few mintues down the road to my church, went inside, sat down in a middle pew for a few minutes, reflected on the important choice which faces us today, and prayed. I didn’t pray for a candidate (although God surely knows who I want to win), but I did pray for America to trust God’s will, as tough as that is sometimes. I also prayed for us to elect those who respect life, and finally for all of us to wake up on Wednesday morning with a commitment to stand together and do our best for this great country of ours, regardless of the outcome.