In Nyack, New York, my polling place was two polling places condensed to one, but that all worked out ok. However, someone from storm-ravaged Long Island showed up to vote and the poll worker was about to turn him away when a few of us started telling her loudly that, by order of the Governor, those from affected storm areas can vote provisionally for president and senator in whatever polling station they could get to. The worker called the county HQ, and got it resolved! Be vigilant, everyone, help make sure the poll workers know the rules, and ensure everyone gets to exercise their rights!
I have been reading stories (on Twitter, the blogosphere, and most important from my own family and friends in OH and FL) about ridiculously long lines, malfunctioning machines, and voter suppression efforts. I realize how fortunate I am to live in Washington, a state that is completely "vote by mail". I am also left wondering why we don't have a national voting law that makes it as easy as possible to cast a vote. Why not just let everyone vote by mail? Why does this have to be a partisan issue as well?
Another vote-by-mail ballot is seen above, from a budding Obama supporter in Portland, Oregon. Another reader, in Brockton, Massachusetts, writes:
A 6-year-old girl asked the police officer why they were shredding her mother's ballot as her mother fed the ballot into the counting machine, causing the entire polling station to break out laughing!
My eight-year-old son and I went to the poll in L.A. right when it opened at 7:00 am. The line was around the block, but it moved quickly – we were in and out in half an hour. While we waited in line, I explained to my son all the ballot propositions – there are eleven state and three county propositions. We glossed right over the county proposition requiring porn stars to wear condos. Not ready to explain that one to my son at 7:00 in the morning.
I went to vote in Shaw in D.C. today around 7:00 a.m. A friend who staffs a Republican Congressman who you and I don't particularly care for was waiting behind me in line. We shared a good laugh at waking up before the crack of dawn and waiting outside for an hour to cancel each other's votes, before going to work to achieve opposing political goals (I work for an Executive branch political appointee). It was a nice reminder that in spite of all the pettiness in the election, faith in the most basic American institution brings us together at least once every year.
I voted early in Illinois so that I'd be available to drive people to the polls. In my area of Illinois there is no mass transportation, so options are limited for drivers without vehicles. Just before noon, I got a call from a lady who spoke in broken English asking for a ride. As I was driving to the address she'd given me, I wondered if I was being pranked. Turns out that Christina had just become an American citizen on May 18 and this was her first time voting. How cool is that?
I became an American citizen after the last presidential election, so this was my first one. I was so excited to the point that my husband (also a naturalized citizen) made fun of me. I took my 5-year-old son with me to vote, who had learned just yesterday all about voting in school. While we waited in line – my son being miraculously patient and not too fidgety – he looked up at me and in one of those moments that make you just worship being a parent, said "Mamma, do you have a President in Canada?" A bunch of people in line chuckled a bit and then we all got into a discussion about the differences between a President and a Prime Minister for the benefit of my future voter. It was a great morning.
This is the first time in twelve years that my husband and I went to our polling place together. He just retired from the military, so he has either been deployed or we have voted by absentee ballot. Twelve years ago we were in Texas and voted for President Bush (I regret that vote to this day). Now, three deployments and three elections later we are voting for President Obama … in a battleground state.
Another, in Colorado:
Twice over the past two months a canvasser has come to my house and asked if I would be voting for Obama. Both times I said yes. Last night, there was a knock on my door. It was another Obama volunteer (the GOP isn’t the only one with volunteer staffed GOTV efforts), who was sent to the house because my mail-in ballot had not been received yet. The ballot was filled out and sitting in my car. The volunteer told me to make sure that I did not try to mail it at this point, and gave a list of nearby locales where I could drop it off. I did so this morning at the local polling place, where there was no line (probably because Colorado has such an easy vote-by-mail system) and got my "I Voted" sticker in 30 seconds. I came away impressed at our state’s voting procedures and Obama’s organization. Peggy Noonan is not the only one who feels vibrations; I think Barack wins Colorado.
I wanted to share my story of voting in Chicago this morning. I live in the Northside, an extremely Democratic precinct and city. We are often told that our vote doesn't count because of geography and demographics, though many in the community still consider it their civic duty to vote. As I was standing in line this morning waiting to cast my ballot, I noticed an older woman with an affected gait go back and forth from the voting table to ask the clerks for a new ballot. She had Parkinson's Disease and was having difficulty marking the ballot correctly. I was standing behind her waiting to turn my ballot in as the machine rejected her third attempt to submit her vote. She very patiently and determinedly said she would fill out the ballot again, her third time, because her shaking should not prevent her from casting a valid vote. I couldn't stay long enough to see if she was successful, but I'm confident she would have filled out ballots all day until she was successful in submitting one – she was that determined.
I left thinking about how privileged we are to live in a country where even if votes don't "matter," the will of the voter does. And the incident also reminded me of the incredible stakes in this election. That a woman with a pre-existing condition can fight so hard to cast her ballot and potentially preserve the significant achievement of Obamacare was incredibly moving. I don't know whether the woman I saw was voting for Obama or not, but I was heartened that someone with much to gain or lose was fighting to make her vote count.
Thanks for the great coverage. I will be following your live-blog this evening!