i voted

Mike and I arrived at the polls at 6:45 this morning to get in line. They had opened at 6, but apparently I was wrong when I said yesterday that it was national that polls open at 6am and close at 8pm in a general election. It does vary by state. But either way, it remains true that you have the right to vote if you are in line by the time polls close, even if you are outside. So many people in 2004 were turned away because they didn't know their rights. And people still believe they can be turned away -- I heard a girl in front of us in line talking about how her brother was going to vote after work and he hoped he could be inside the building by 8, otherwise he would be turned away from the line.

Approaching the building where we vote, we were surprised not to see anyone standing in line outside, and expected it not to take very long. When we entered the doorway, though, it was a different story. We were immediately faced with mass confusion and lines snaking all through the building.

We vote in the lobby of a residential tower about a 10 minute walk from our building. The line started in the lobby, went around a corner, down a long hallway and out to a service entrance. From there, it did a u-turn back up the hallway, around the corner, then down another hallway into the mailroom. It wound back out of the mailroom and ended at the front door where we entered. This did not sit well with the security guards at the building, and nobody knew what to do.

It seemed like they had never seen such a turn-out and had no idea how to handle it. Voters were coming to the front door, being told to walk around the building, enter through the service entrance, and follow the line back out to the end, which was at the front door where they started. This caused two problems: the people already in line at the service entrance were getting hostile because they believed these people were trying to cut in line, and also many people being told to go around were confused and argumentative because they were supposed to walk all through the building only to end up back where they started.

After we had been there about 10-15 minutes, they finally directed the line out the service entrance, and wound around the parking lot outside instead. As we followed the path of the line out the door, I was able to count people. I think there were about 175 people in line in front of us. And getting longer behind us by the minute.

At 8:45, we finally reached the table where they could mark us off in the book and we could sign in and get our paper slips to hand over to the volunteers managing the voting booths. We were numbers 321 and 322 on the little paper slips, but there were two of those little books so I'm not actually sure how many people voted before we did this morning. When we voted and left, there were probably another 200 people behind us still in line, and people were still steadily arriving.

I felt a thrill to be a part of the political process this year. To be a part of this historic election. I am so glad that voters are turning out in crowds like I was a part of this morning, and I hope it continues all day, throughout the country. Not only was it crowded, but I would guess that easily half the voters in line were between the ages of 20-30. So, kudos to my generation for turning out, FINALLY! Rock the vote!

Did you vote yet today? Were there crowds? Tell me about your experience at the polls.

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Happy birthday, Mom!

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yes, there was a major line when I voted too. I also had to wait two hours to vote, but then again I was right behind you in line. That voter challenger dude was creepy--you are not my sister.

Amy said...

Ohh yeah, I forgot about that in all my excitement of voting. The guy behind the voting table asked if Mike and I were brother and sister. WEIRD.

Katherine said...

I got to vote last week, in Indiana we have early voting and vote centers so that you can go to the one that is most convenient for you and your schedule. Very helpful! I "only" had to wait 40 minutes last Friday afternoon, but I imagine it migh be worse today instead.

gretam said...

I got very lucky! I went at 2pm this afternoon and didn't wait a second! I went right on in and voted after they checked off my name. Peter had a only wait a few minutes and he was in and out quickly.

Very weird about the guy asking if you were brother and sister.

I am glad that I didn't have to wait as long as you did this morning!

Can't wait to see the results of so many people out voting!

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