The line at my polling station at 9:30 this morning was two hours long.
I waited. And, I voted.
I checked the line at 7:30. It was even longer then.
Now, at 2:30, in light rain, the line looks to be 45 minutes to an hour long.
Volunteers from the Democratic Party have a tent set up that people can huddle under for part of their procession.
This is in a quiet community of working class families in the “fake” Virginia, where I live. My polling station is my apartment complex. Our line of voters snakes through the entrance to the leasing office, past the little fitness room, and into the big room normally available to residents for hosting parties. As it is, I vote in a semi-personal space — a place not “mine” so much as connected to me; a place where I am comfortable and to which I feel connected. The number of people lining the sidewalk makes quite a visual contrast with the usual calm.
I’d be willing to believe that as many as ¼ of my neighbors are not U.S. citizens and so did not vote. There are also a fair number of military people who may be voting in their “home” state. And, so although I’m not sure how large of an area my polling station serves, the turnout is impressive.
But, the thing that I find most inspiring is that during the two hours I waited, I didn’t hear one person complain about waiting. That isn’t to say any of us wanted to wait. It’s just that, for the most part, everyone I could hear was just plain happy to see so many people come out to vote.
There is a palpable sense that the usual dearth of voter participation is the reason why our legislators and executives continues to make so many bad decisions. The “hope” I think I see is less that one candidate or another might win than that the end of voter apathy will take an era of bad government down with it.
And so we all waited.
A non-affiliated non-profit handed out Sudoku puzzles and mint candies.
Everyone was quite friendly.
The Democratic Party volunteers escorted seniors and pregnant women to the front of the line.
No one ever showed a hint of caring who anyone else would vote for. People just cared that other people cared.
I couldn’t help but think about how rare it is to see such an affirmation of the decency of other people. The atmosphere, the reality of it, just couldn’t be more opposite to the negative spit, fire, and slander that TV politics has brought us.
Well, let me clarify that. In my district, nearly every bit of negativity and fear stoking has come from one campaign and one campaign only. I’ll let you guess which one.
Oh, in case you’re wondering, I voted for Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Mark Warner, and James Moran.
Furthermore, as a rule, I won’t ask you who you voted for. All I care is that you made an informed decision, and that you voted on it.