I arrived at work this morning with that special glow of self-satisfaction that only comes from doing your civic duty. That's right, I voted!
As predicted the polls were bustling with people anxious to cast their votes. I got there at 7:00am expecting to beat the crowds but apparently everyone else had the same idea.
The auditorium where I voted was filled with a mix of senior citizens and anxious office workers determined not to have voting eat into their 9 to 5 gig. I'm not sure why the seniors are hellbent on clogging up the line during pre and after work hour rushes - they do have all day don't they? Although I've never voted after 8:30am or before 6:00pm, so maybe it's old home week for seniors and I'm experiencing the trickle effect.
My wait in line was longer than I planned (about ten minutes) and in true New York form, filled with complaints, inane chatter and deep discussions about how the process could be better.
A very vocal Asian woman kept repeating to every new person in line that the sign indicating the district should be higher. When the machine monitor explained to her there was no way to do it, she said they should tape the signs to the chairs or have someone hold up the sign. A chatty red head with a Sarah Palin accent said, "You must be a manager."
The Asian woman said, "No I am a teacher."
Redheaded Palin asked what she taught, she replied, "I teach autism."
Red said, "I used to teach kindergarten now I am a bookkeeper and I hate it but I'm thankful I have a job. I'm worried though, I've lost every job I've had in the last five years. That's why I moved here."
When I got to the table to sign in the elderly woman squinted up at me and asked to see my ID to find my name. After she located it on the roster I reached for it.
"I still need it," she said grabbing my ID out of my hand.
"No, you don't. You are not legally required to show ID in NY state," I said.
Then she noticed that the address on my license did not match my voter registration address. After I explained why, she said, "Don't tell anybody."
"Tell them what?"
"They won't let you vote." She looked around at the motley crew of monitors sipping coffee and complaining that there were fourteen more hours to go. Did she see armed guards I didn't see?
"Just don't say anything," she said.
I took my card and ID from her. "Next time bring the card they mailed to you. This way I won't have to know."
"Know what?" I asked again, still not clear of what law she imagined I was violating.
"That you have two addresses."
I rolled my eyes as I was waved into the booth and hid behind the plastic shower curtain cover that keeps our voting secret. Outside I heard Red telling the Autism teacher about her bitter divorce and how she now gets her haircut every six weeks.
Every time I pull the levers I think of my parents who never took the privilege of voting for granted. My mother votes in every election and studies the issues and makes informed decisions. My father did the same. Whenever I groused about not feeling good about any of the options my father would say, "In your voting life you will case more ballots against one candidate than you will for one."
I'm happy to say this year I cast mine for Obama -- I was a Hilary supporter -- but I got behind Obama. What was the turning point for me? The second debate when he spoke about women in a way that made me feel his admiration and love for them and how he smiled whenever McCain attacked him. He got my support then -- he had my vote all along.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed and my hopes high.
Of the many things I am grateful for after voting today -- I am most grateful that Autism was not a required course in my high school.