At first I planned to go to the polls at 10:15am, hoping I would wind up in some endless line, fearing that our local NJ polling spot would be its usual efficient self, and there would be maybe twice the usual number of stragglers there that I’ve usually found when I hit the polls mid-morning, after the pre-work crush — our polls open at 6:00 and the lines usually thin out sometime after 9:00 or 9:30, when most of the wage slaves have gone to work.
But I just couldn’t get to sleep, and found myself obsessing through the night, replaying Rachel Maddow bits, obsessively updating running comment fests that got started days ago in an effort to ease anxieties or allow me to obsess about other factors beyond the election.
I was still awake at 4:30 am, when I decided I wanted a crowd, I wanted to see others no matter what, and I wanted to know there were others doing what I was doing. I also wanted to be among the first to vote for perhaps the first Presidential candidate I can recall, where I was mostly voting for him, and not just voting against some heartless or dangerous loon. It’s been a long time in the Wilderness — I’ve voted in every Presidential election and nearly every “off-year”, school board and special ballot election that I’ve been eligible for, since I turned 18, at college, in 1977.
I got to the polls a minute or two after they opened. The line for my precinct was already wrapped in a funny little coil in the entrance way and running out the door. I waited outside for maybe 5 or 10 minutes.
Not nearly long enough to bask in the shining faces of my fellow voters, for several of whom I’m sure it was one of their first times voting. You could tell, in part because they weren’t familiar with how the tables worked where you first identified your name and signature in the big book to confirm that you were registered, or to do whatever it is you do when you’re a first-timer and they didn’t get you into the book. I don’t think anyone in my line wasn’t in the book.
There was a brief glitch getting the second machine to work, when the poll workers realized they’d need one for our precinct.
I live in the only precinct in my township that contains what passes for “affordable housing” here. It includes a large garden apartment complex, some town houses, and most of the housing in the township that is on lots smaller than 1.5 acres.
Another precinct also votes at my development’s rec center. It’s mainly a golf course and several pods of McMansions, plus some of the houses that were build on the old county road before the development went nuts here. Those are much of the unofficial “affordable housing” — the families who moved here for the excellent schools, but without the incomes to support a jumbo mortgage that might be well north of $400K, if they bought before the the market went really nuts over the last 8 years.
Not so many smiling faces there, but more than you might think, considering most will see a tax hike even if the threshold winds up being $250K. I know a lot of those people, it’s my ex’s precinct so I’ve been to their barbecues and yard parties and progressive dinners, and we see one another at marching band performances, school plays, band concerts, student-teacher conferences, dance classes and so on. Their line was, though, about 1/3 the length of ours.
Well, to make what I’d hoped would be a long story just a little longer, but not as long as it could have been, I got out of there a little too soon for my taste. Maybe 30 minutes, tops, once I got inside, and that with glitches and dealing with the poll workers still setting up and settling in for the long day ahead. I should go over now (11:37 am) and see if there’s a line. By the time I left there was one, probably three times what it had been when I hit the end of the line at 6:03 or so.
I took it as a good sign, and I teared up several times, thinking about Obama’s grandmother, thinking about how perhaps the Civil War was mostly over, thinking about how happy I was to have this opportunity to do my civic duty and actually be voting for someone I truly admire, someone who wasn’t just the lesser of two evils. I hope I remember my wait in line, grinning like a fool to the other obvious Obama voters in line, tearing up, praying that Obama will prove to be the kind of president I feel certain he can become.
Now I need to find something else to do to ensure his victory and what I hope will be his (very probable) landslide.