Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Voting Today...Optimistic Crowds

Here in New Jersey they don't have early voting. So my equivalent was to get up early - when the polls opened at 6am, to vote in my Democratic-leaning burg.

Got to the polling station about 6:40 am. The lines were longer than I'd seen in the 2004 election, four rows deep going all the way to the door of the gymnasium. Though not unreasonably long, it was damn early, and there were people of all ages - certainly many of whom could have waited to vote later in the day. The poll workers were efficient and we got through the lines in twenty minutes.

USA Today image of voters in Cleveland

Many voters explained that this was the first time they were voting. These were not just young people but new voters of all ages. There was an old man who could barely walk but was determined to vote; a young girl who was excited to vote for the first time. A bake sale in the gym (again, something new) was selling coffee, cakes. Everyone was friendly and chatty. It was really like the whole town was turning out. There was a palpable excitement all over the room that I'd never seen before.

Afterwards, we went to the local diner for breakfast. The atmosphere was almost like a festival - campaign workers passing by with placards and buttons for Obama, people waiving to Obama supporters outside from the diner, everyone talking about having voted.

On the oldies station on the radio, the theme was "Change" - they played Aretha Franklin's "Change" and David Bowie's "Changes."

The day is beautiful fall weather, all the trees in peak color, a little heavy with impeding drizzle, but warm and party-cloudy. The last time I felt this kind of simmering public jubilation was just before Game 7 when the Cardinals were about to win the pennant in St. Louis in 1984. Have a good feeling from all this.

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