Below is my semi-live blog of the experience. Let us know how it went for you in comments!
6:38 — I arrive at my polling place to find the parking lot nearly full. I don’t usually vote first thing, so I don’t know if this is typical. Dear Husband, who almost always votes before work, says it’s not. The white van with the Sarah! sticker is there. Yikes! I’m probably the 70th person in line.
6:45 – Can’t see the end of the line behind me now; it’s wrapped around the building. Everyone is quiet. This is a heavily Republican precinct. A man in front of me jokes that he’ll vote for whoever hands out free coffee. I wouldn’t mind some coffee. My choice to wear shorts in anticipation of the 75° predicted high was not the best, in retrospect. Good thing I have a sweatshirt. And comfortable shoes. Prissy woke me up at 4:30 this morning; I hope Obama puts this away early tonight.
6:51 – I balance purse, book, and a tiny mirror and slap on some eye makeup. Need to look good for such a historic occasion. See a few people I know and wonder how they’re voting. The guys in front of me discuss the virtues of SUVs and trucks.
6:58 – Will they open on time?
6:59 – Doors open! This has always been an efficient polling place; we’ll see if it is today. I search the line and finally see one black face. I’m close to the door, but the poll workers are calling in different alphabetical groups to fill in the shorter lines. A man in front of me points out an 18-year-old voter in line behind us, remembering that the age requirement was still 21 when he was 18. A-C, N-R, and E-H go ahead of us, but the wait isn’t long.
7:10 – I’m inside, about 10 back in the I-M line. There’s a dad behind me explaining the process to his 6-year-old son, telling him that he’ll get to vote in a presidential election in 12 years. Cool! My hands are shaking. Good thing I didn’t have that coffee after all.
7:18 – I get my ballot and look for a place to mark it. Get a seat at a table and pull out my sample ballot. Can feel the people around me going, “Oh, shit, she’s going to take forever.” I’m so worried about spoiling the ballot. I carefully trace each oval and then fill it in completely with my black pen, trying to make sure I don’t color outside the lines. I write in my pal John Crenshaw for Congress — as usual, Bachus (R-of course) has no oppositon. I write in Dan Weinrib for county tax assessor as he should have been the Dem candidate. I even vote on all the ridiculous constitutional amendments we’re forced to consider here in Alabama with our crappy, outmoded, Constitution…I try not to peek at my neighbor’s votes, but just as I stand up, I see another ballot marked for Obama. Think about giving a total stranger a high five, decide it wouldn’t be prudent.
7:24 – I’m done! My ballot is #98 on the optical scanner (the other one has a count in the 90s as well). I get my sticker and head outside. The line is much shorter now; the before-work rush is done. Now it’s all over but the waiting.
I have my reservations about Obama. I definitely have my reservations about some of his internet supporters. He won’t be perfect; he’ll track too much to the middle for my taste. I don’t know if he’ll ever address the blatant, nasty sexism that was on display during the campaign. But at the same time, I’m awed by the experience of voting for the man who will likely be the first African-American president of the United States. It’s chill-bump territory.