Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Doing my civic duty

I went to the polls at around 6:00 PM tonight, and was happy to find a long line of people waiting to cast their votes. I usually vote at around 7:30 or 8:00 PM (polls close in New York State at 9:00 PM), and I'm typically the 170th-190th person in my election district to cast a ballot. This year, I was the 389th person, and the 400th person showed up around ten minutes after I got there. During slow periods, the poll workers would look up from their forms, survey the lines, and grin from ear to ear.

Everyone (with the exception of the impatient couple behind me) seemed to be in a really good mood. I always enjoy seeing parents bring their kids into the voting booth with them, but tonight there were a lot more kids than usual; most of my neighbors are African-American, and it was pretty evident that parents wanted their children to see history being made.

There were also a lot of first-time voters, which definitely slowed down the line a bit: the poll workers had to give people a crash course in using New York State's old-school lever machines. There were also a couple of people who apparently imbibed a little Election Day cheer before casting their ballots, and they might have taken a little longer than they might have otherwise.

Right now, I'm just glad that I was able to vote and that many, many other Americans have gotten the same opportunity; there have been some dismaying stories about machine breakdowns, the conduct of local officials, and other problems, but they seem to be the exception, not the rule. Now that the polls are closing in a number of states, I'm going to start watching as the returns come in . . . .

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