Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Casting a Ballot - One Person's Experience

I voted today...and I have the "I Voted 2008" sticker to prove it in case you doubt me.

After following the state and national campaigns for a year or more, and perhaps equally importantly after a cup of strong coffee at home this morning, I walked the four blocks in the grey pre-sunrise Seattle drizzle to my local polling place to do my civic duty as the polls opened at 7 a.m.

As I rounded the last corner, I was pleasantly surprised to see so many of my fellow citizens had turned out too as a line extended out the door of the school and around the corner of the block. I've been voting in this place for years and I've never seen so many people there. 

As I waited in that line in the cool morning air, and as we filed in to get our ballots, fill them out and slide them smoothly into the box I reflected on how important this election is and what it meant for me to be there voting in person. To me, it boiled down to two key things:
  • This is a momentous election on many levels - national, state and local. The issues have been covered, commented upon and analyzed repeatedly (including on this blog), so we all know what is at stake. Participating in this collective American decision, influencing what we do next at this critical juncture in our history, and making sure my voice was heard proved to be a very rewarding moment. Not much more to say than that, except...
  • Another part of that oval sticker that I received after voting says "farewell to polls." That's because this election is the last in which residents of King County (the county in which the city of Seattle sits) will be able to vote in person on election day at a polling place. The entire election will be conducted by mail in all future elections. No more will voters here be able to literally drop a ballot in a box on election day, and I think this will be missed - at least I know I will miss it. Today's experience drove that home to me. The hot gym packed with people, the conversations with fellow members of the community while waiting in line, holding the ballot, filling it your choices at a voting station and putting the ballot into the scanner box for counting...all of this will no longer be. Since the beginning of the nation, this has been how people voted. So, call me nostalgic or old fashioned, but I will miss voting in this manner, and doing so for the last time today added to the overall importance of the experience.
My duty discharged, I made my way back home to start work. I work with people in Ohio and on phone calls with them today several commented that lines were 1.5 hours long (my experience was about 40 min. total) and that there were many "observers" at the polling places as lawsuits are expected over the vote tallies no matter what happens. Ominous signals from that critical state for sure.

Later today Diane and I will visit a friend's house to watch election returns and see who wins. 

My fingers are crossed that the nation chooses well...not to mention my state and local community.

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