Scene One: I voted!
(see also Your Voting Stories (Nov. 4 11am Update) at Huffington Post)
I was too nervous to go to bed last night, and when I finally tried, the dogs hogged my side of the bed and I couldn't lie down. So I slept on the couch, for about an hour. John woke me at 6:30 AM. I got dressed (carefully avoiding any political apparel), told the excited dogs they weren't going anywhere, and got in the car. It was 6:56 AM, 58 degrees.
The drive to Wheeler Elementary took two minutes. The walk across the half-full parking lot took another two minutes. One woman was walking back to her car, smiling, and three other people behind her chatted as they returned to theirs. The first woman told me that the wait was "not too bad," in a tine that implied it wasn't bad at all. Ahead of me, a man chatted briefly with a poll worker by the door. I overheard the word "antsy." Then he went in. I said, "I think everyone is feeling antsy today." Then I went inside as well.
Although the Tucson Citizen had reported that the U.S. Attorney's Office in Arizona and the FBI would be on the lookout here for voter fraud, there was no sign of anyone in uniform, any security, anyone the slightest bit intimidating. Everyone was cheerful and friendly. The only change in the set up compared to past years as an extra table with the sign "start here," which handled the ID checking. After I fumbled for my driver's license I was given a slip with the number 83, and went to sign in next to my name. The next person to arrive did not have the proper ID, and was sent home to get some utility bills to verify his address. The alternative was a provisional ballot, although the poll worker didn't use that term. She did explain that it would be sealed and opened later and encouraged him to bring in two bills instead. "I'll be back," he promised, after politely explaining the level of inconvenience this would entail. One of the poll workers told me there had been only four people so far with an ID or registration problem.
After about a three minute wait for a polling booth, I set down my newly acquired ballot inside the blue plastic walls and picked up an uncapped felt tip pen. I found myself almost in tears as I filled in the first oval on the form, next to the name OBAMA. It took about eight minutes to fill out the rest, referring to my sample ballot a couple of times on the lesser races and propositions. In all there were 16 races (six with only one candidate, one with no candidates), nine propositions including the anti-gay marriage Prop 102 (I voted against that, and all but two of the others), and 21 judges to dump or retain (I gave them all a Yes to retain, including the judge for whom I was a juror last year).
Then I turned in the ballot, got my sticker and left. On the way out, I got to tell someone else how short the wait was. Total time, from leaving the house to pulling back into my driveway: 20 minutes. If only everyone's voting experience could be this pleasant and trouble-free!
Scene Two: Drive.
Over the past few days, the question of whether more volunteers are needed to drive people to the polls has yield a constantly fluctuating answer. Just in case, and because I don't want to make any more phone calls, I planned to offer myself and the Eagle for this task. Last night I emptied half the trash from the car, including the worn out seat covers. This morning after voting, I reported the experience to HuffPo, tried briefly to sleep, changed into an Obama shirt and went back out. I sprayed the car with disinfectant and Febreeze to get rid of that stale doggie smell, and then treated myself to breakfast from McDonald's for the first time in two months.
Overheard at McDonald's:
Elderly Man: Happy days are here again!
Elderly Woman: We'll see.
Then I was off to a car wash, where they offered me a voter's discount on the "The Works," and a new windshield on Allstate's dime due to some minor pitting. (I said I'd think about the latter.) It took me a while to finish cleaning out the car, after which they vacuumed and washed it. (They did a very good job on the vacuuming, an adequate job on the windshield and such.) Several of the guys working on it spoke enthusiastically of Obama ("That's what I'm taking about!") when they saw my shirt.
Next stop: Pima County Democratic Headquarters. I thought I saw the place full yesterday, when for the first time they were using a parking lot across the street. Today that lot was full, and the lot for the VFW hall (or whatever it is) was also getting Democrats parking - and not only because it was a polling place. A woman stood on the sidewalk with flags and Gabrielle Giffords signs, the latter of which have proliferated overnight in my part of town. Someone was telling her how far away she needed to stay from the polling place as I walked by.
Inside, the main room was busier than I had ever seen it, by far. A tv was on, all the tables were set up, and people filled nearly every seat. One man was telling someone that he was waiting to use a land line, because "I don't have enough minutes left on my cell phone."
I checked in up front about driving, and was directed to the right person. There was a sign up sheet by the door, along with a bowl of ID tags to wear when driving, so people would know you're legit. The coordinator had me sign in with my name, phone number and car details, but said they had plenty of people and only one request to that point. Someone said it was more likely people would call for a ride later in the afternoon, and there was general agreement that maybe I should sleep between now and then. I wrote by my phone number to call if needed, and left.
On the way to the HQ I had passed several polling places, and didn't see any lines or other problems outside any of them. Coming back, I saw that a church whose sign on Sunday seemed to cryptically support religious right candidates is a polling place today. I got to wondering whether the Eastside Assembly of God, which has a big banner supporting the anti-gay marriage amendment, is also a polling place.
It is. The "Yes! 102" sign is still hanging proudly from the church's roof, and there are a few other signs scattered around. I'm pretty sure it's legal; the banner is supporting a (very bad, bigoted) cause, not a candidate, and the actual polling place is not in that particular building.
The actual voting is behind the church at their Activity Center, where I've voted in a few primaries and shopped at at least one rummage sale. As I turned the car around and snapped a few shots, I saw a man moving a political sign a little further from that building.
Here's where the sign ended up. Again, I'm reasonably sure it's legal; it's not the same thing as a minister telling the congregation to vote for a particular candidate. But I have to tell you, it rubs me the wrong way. This is the same church that competes for my trick or treaters with their Fall Festival.
Scene Three: Listen
Me on Twitter: Slept 4 hours. Guess they don't need me to drive people to the polls. Do I dare take the dogs to the dog park, or will I stay by tv? Dogs!
Me on Twitter: Bought a $5 radio to listen to @nprpolitics in the car and at the dog park earlier. My car radio shorted out weeks ago.
Scene Four: Watch
Me on Twitter: Can't concentrate on tv and computer at the same time, so online world being neglected by me for now. PA! Ohio! NM! AZ too close to call!
I've mostly watched MSNBC all night, occasionally switching to KVOA for local results. Giffords and Grijalva are both winning (yay!) and so far, 102 is passing (boo!). My stepmother worked for Obama in NC, and it frustrates me that they still haven't called that state for Obama. I also want AZ to have a closer percentage, even if Obama doesn't win it. There's still a lot of southern AZ to count, as late as 11 PM. It could still happen.
Scene Five: HE DID IT!
Me on Twitter: HE DID IT! Per MSNBC
When MSNBC called the race, I cried. I hugged my husband. I hugged my dog. Obama did it. He really did it. And we helped, everyone who voted, blogged, made calls, sent emails, went door to door etc. Dirty tricks were attempted, but could not carry the day.
Me on Twitter: @BarackObama Congratulations! I have never felt so honored to be able to vote for a particular candidate. All the best for your presidency!
I was reasonably pleased with McCain's concession speech, not so much with his crowd. Loved the scene at Grant Park, and Obama's speech. John and I told Cayenne that Obama was pro-dog, since he's getting the kids a puppy.
From: Barack Obama
To: Karen Blocher
Date: Tue, 4 Nov 2008 10:49 pm
I'm about to head to Grant Park to talk to everyone gathered there, but I wanted to write to you first.
We just made history.
And I don't want you to forget how we did it.
You made history every single day during this campaign -- every day you knocked on doors, made a donation, or talked to your family, friends, and neighbors about why you believe it's time for change.
I want to thank all of you who gave your time, talent, and passion to this campaign.
We have a lot of work to do to get our country back on track, and I'll be in touch soon about what comes next.
But I want to be very clear about one thing...
All of this happened because of you.
A new world begins today. All the stress of trying to get Obama elected is over. Now the pressure is on President Elect Obama, and the people he chooses to enter the White House with him. There are plenty of serious problems to be dealt with that affect all of us, and months yet before he can put his hand on the tiller. The new Congress should help. The rest of us who supported him want to help, but I'm not sure how. Other Americans will disagree with every move--until it works! And the fearful contingent may eventually notice when he shows himself not to be a socialist Muslim terrorist dictator. I hope so, anyway!
It's going to be interesting.