Last week, I worked as an election official for the fifth year (and the eighth time, I think). The precinct where I worked edged just slightly towards Obama. Voter turnout was good – turnout the day of was about 57% of registered voters with another 20% having voted absentee. That 20% absentee is what made the day somewhat surprising.
When I arrived at 5am, there were already people camped out waiting to vote. They’d been there since 4, apparently. We opened the doors at 6 and for the next 90 minutes, people poured in. The traffic patterns were odd: the line for last names beginning with H to O (yes, that led to about 800 comments about “H2O” and one “HO. I guess that’s my line!”) would be 30 deep when the other two lines were literally empty. Yet, the A-G book had the most people come through by day’s end.
By 7:30am, the traffic had dwindled significantly. Around 10am, another small rush hit for about 30 minutes. We all waited for the next rush to come. But it never did. Not at lunch. Not at 5pm. Not right before closing. The rest of the day was people trickling in little by little. Sometimes 30 minute stretches would go by where one section of the alphabet wouldn’t have a single person come through. It was amazing how slow it was.
Paperwork was filled out and we were headed home by 9:30pm, which is really good. Only one small vote tally issue, but we got that straightened out without too much trouble. It was a really simple day. A little disappointing, in that respect, really.
I usually have stories about weird people that came through, but this time there was only one person worth noting. Of course, it was someone I had to deal with. It was a woman who’d come to the wrong school to vote, a common mistake because there are two schools right next to each other for people in neighboring sections of the town. But when I told her she’d have to go across the parking lot to the other school to vote, she was livid. “It’s absurd that being one school off matters! Why can’t I just vote here?” I showed her the precinct map, explained it calmly, and she still stormed out. I’m guessing that she went home rather than driving 30 seconds to the adjacent school.
And that, my friends, was Election Day 2008.
A (very) brief political statement…
I had something significant written up about Obama’s victory, but I decided to save it rather than post it. So I’ll just say that for the first time in many, many years, I feel like something positive might actually happen in Washington. It’ll be really interesting to see how the flickr/Twitter/Facebook-aware Government 2.0 changes the way the political machine runs over the next four years.