November 4, 2008

America Rocks

Election Day is finally upon us. I got dressed in my jeans, white shirt, and red sweater (get it?? -- red, white, and blue!), put on my red tennies with the hula dancers on them, and climbed into the vehicle with my compadre to head for the polling place. We got there at 9:45 and were back in the Jeep by 10:00.

We got lucky. Our polling place has voters from three different districts, and only a bit of our district votes there. So there was nobody in line ahead of me, while it looked as though people in the other two lines had a 30 to 45 minute wait.

I asked a poll worker how things are going, and he said they'd had more voters by ten this morning than voted all together in the primary. And if memory serves we had the highest primary turnout ever. So all of the discussion about high voter turnout seems to be accurate.

I was accustomed to voting machines in South Carolina where you felt your way through the curtains into the voting booth and then got to move an extra-large lever from one side to the other to cast your ballot, which it did with a resounding thunk! Here we had those little stations with blinders between you and the person next to you, and a long white sheet of paper. To vote, you filled in the oval (yes, just like when you took the SATs) with a heavy black pencil. AND THERE WAS NO ERASER. Talk about pressure. Remember the lecture you used to get about not going outside the lines of those ovals and being sure you fill them in completely? I'm happy to report that my motor skills were up to the task.

On the morning news, I saw that Kentucky's going to get attention this evening for two reasons. First, we are a state where the polls close ridiculously early, at 7:00 p. m. That means broadcasters are going to be looking at our results to see what trends (or hallucinations) they can come up with. Additionally, we've got an open Senate seat.Louisville is heartily Democratic, but the rest of the state runs Republican. A battle in which there's no incumbent could reveal if it's really about the economy this year.

The first time I stayed up all night watching election results was in 1968. There was nobody awake in the world but me, one or two news announcers saying, basically, "we have no new results but let me repeat what I've already told you," and my two-week-old baby girl. When I spoke with her today, she reminded me that when she was in seventh grade they had to color in a map, using red and blue, to show which candidate carried which states. She teaches third grade now, and she has her students do the same thing. She said the children love it; that for them it's like a a football game. Winners and losers, cheerleaders and naysayers, and all of us waiting to see what's next.

I suppose there hasn't been as lame a duck as George W. Bush in the presidency since that same 1968 election, when Lyndon Baines Johnson did not run for a second term.

The news reports at noon are now playing. While a few polling places have lines of half an hour or so, nearly all of the 215 polling locations in Jefferson County are getting people in and out quickly. There were problems at six places first thing this morning: machines wrongly loaded, missing parts, locked doors. But those problems were apparently corrected.

In Louisville, you will be able to vote as long as you're in line by six o'clock (6:00) tonight. And it's a beautiful day, clear sky, sunshine, mid-70s. Have at it, everybody!

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