Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day Jitters

I'm writing this in the early afternoon on Election Day (though it won't be posted until later in the afternoon). The results aren't in yet, of course, but I'm hopeful. Then again, I was hopeful four years ago and eight years ago. I'm trying to not let my hopes get up too high. You can't always believe the polls.

New Mexico has early voting; in fact they strongly encourage it. We got at least two "robocalls" from Governor Richardson encouraging us to vote early. By the time early voting ended on Saturday, 40 percent of eligible voters in Taos County had voted! I voted last Tuesday and only had to wait about 10 or 15 minutes.

Ron likes to vote on Election Day. Part of it is the social aspect. In such a small precinct, he always sees people he knows. The other part he likes is feeling like a link in a long chain of history. Our regular polling place (not for early voting) is a very old building, at least 100 years old; knowing Taos, it could be 200 or 300 years old! It's a Community Center now; I forget what it was originally, probably a school. It has wooden floors that give off his old, dry wood smell that only really old buildings have. Standing in line inside, you think of all the people who have voted before you over the years and the people who will vote there years from now.

Ron has been very excited about this election in particular. He did some volunteer work for Obama early on, before he got the nomination, and of course he volunteered at the convention in Denver. We both went to see Obama when he came to Espanola, a town about 45 minutes from here. That experience was GREAT, even though it involved standing in the hot sun for 5 or 6 hours, between waiting and the rally itself. It was worth it, though. We were so close to the front!

But even knowing how excited he is about the whole thing, I was still surprised by his actions this morning. His regular shift at work is 4 pm to midnight; then he comes home and winds down for awhile before going to bed about 1:30 or 2:00. This morning, I woke up about 5:00 or 5:30. He hadn't come to bed yet and I could dimly hear the TV in the living room. At least he waited until 6:00 before he came bounding into the bedroom, full of energy. He said he was too excited to sleep and he was going to vote at 7:00 as soon as the polls opened and then go to sleep. He's working slightly different hours today, from 2:00 to 8:00 instead of 4:00 to midnight. He wanted to get off early so he can come home and watch the returns.

We'll see what happens tonight.

1 comment:

Barbara said...

I see that NM went for Obama (and Colorado too)! Yay! I hope you and Ron celebrated or will get to celebrate.

I know just what you mean about the jitters. I (and so many others I know) felt the same. A little afraid to hope. What a relief to have the result be so very solid--no doubt whatsoever! Three cheers for the American people!

I'm with Ron about Election Day, even though my polling place isn't historic (just a 1970s-era elementary school). There's something about having an official day and taking part in the electoral process with the people in the community. In fact, I voted against early voting (we had a proposition about that on the ballot) because I like keeping Election Day as a very special occasion. But I think the proposition won in our state, and I know many of my friends voted for it.

We had the biggest crowd ever when our polling place opened at 7 a.m. yesterday. The line went outside, down the sidewalk, and around the corner of the school. But that was the last big crowd we had. Most of the day, it alternated between trickles and short bursts. We were expecting another long line between about 4:30 and 6:30 (based on the experience in the 2004 presidential election) but that didn't happen. In fact, we had very low numbers after a small crowd around 5:00. I think a lot of people decided to vote first thing in the morning. I know our county also had a record number of absentee voters (which functions as a form of early voting--though people are supposed to vote absentee only for cause, such as being out of town, many people fudge it).

As one of the chief judges, I had to take our election results (including the all-important memory cards) and supplies up to the board of elections HQ after we closed the polls. It's a long drive there and back after a long day, and I was grateful that my friend Rob offered to drive (and his wife, my friend Pam, came along even though her job as provisional judge didn't require it). We listened to NPR the whole way. As we heard each of the so-called battleground states going for Obama, Rob kept saying, "That's it. It's over." But we were still taken a little by surprise at how early they declared that Obama had enough electoral college votes to win.

I got home a little before 11:30 p.m. and turned on the TV just in time to hear McCain deliver his acceptance speech (which was gracious, I thought). That was the moment when I knew it was real. Such a joy and relief! It's still sinking in, but no more jitters!

It's cool that you got to go to the rally. A friend of mine was going to one in Charlotte, NC, Monday night--traveling from South Carolina, which was, to her disgust, still a very red state. I haven't heard back from her yet how it was, but I have no doubt it was inspiring. You must have had quite an experience, being so close to the front. Even on TV, Obama is amazing. In person, it must have been even better.