Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day: Report from the trenches

Polls opened in Missouri at 6:00 AM. When I arrived a few minutes before 6:00, there were over 200 people in line, snaking down the steps, along the sidewalk, through the parking lot, almost to the street in the back of the little Knights of Columbus hall where we vote. The parking lot was full, the parking lot in the church across the street was full, and people were parking 2 or 3 blocks away. I've NEVER seen more than 10 people in line at this polling station since I've lived here.

A slightly bleary-eyed 20-something got in line behind me and said this was his first time voting, were the lines always this long? Several of us in line had a good laugh and assured him that no, none of us ever seen anything quite like this, certainly not at 6 AM.

The line moved relatively quickly, as such things go. People were in a good mood, and no one seemed frustrated by the long wait (though one person had to leave the line because they had to be at work at 7:00, but I heard them say they'd be back after they got off shift at 3:30). I got my optical-scan ballot at 6:45 and was out the door at 6:50. By that time, the line was shorter--there were "only" a hundred people or so, and the line only went halfway down the parking lot.

Something big is happening. And with turnout like this, whoever wins will certainly be able to claim a mandate.

One other thing. I'm not one for flag-waving sentimentality. But walking up to the polls, seeing 200 people lined up before sunrise, patiently waiting for the opportunity to cast a vote--Is this a great country, or what? Maybe American democracy has a chance after all. The people are waking up, and they are about to speak. Loudly, I think.

Update: This is the body of an email I sent to Andrew Sullivan. He posted part of it. I'm famous, woohoo! Well, in an anonymous, who-cares kind of way.

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