"No matter what, you're going to have a wait."
This is what one of my new friends has told me.
In preparation of the vote
This was hardly true and I'm glad for it, though I was worried. I live in Newport News, Virginia now. The commonwealth has registered around half a million new voters for this election and the news media has predicted chaos at the polling sites, McCain is suing, people are being lied to and told that Democrats vote on Wednesday, and black folks are being screwed out of their votes during another presidential election in more ways than one.
Given all this information, I wanted to be prepared. After a mere two hours of sleep, I woke up before the sun (which I hate to do). I put on wool socks, a thick hoodie, gloves, grabbed my folding camping chair, a booklight and a pocket-sized book and left for my polling station at 5:30, in the humid morning drizzle.
Upon arrival, and amid parking chaos, there were only about 2o people ahead of me on the line outside of the church doors. I set my chair down and proceded to play Lego Racers on my cell phone. Right around 6 am, when the polls opened, the line began to move and I made light conversation with other folks. We wondered if the ballots were electronic, with no paper trail, which I thought to be the case.
The parking chaos seemed to be the main focus of conversation, as perhaps, like myself, no one thought it appropriate to talk politics while at this point in line. Maybe they all saw the guy with what looked like a rifle case slung over his shoulder walking in the parking lot. I'm hoping it was merely his own camping chair...
Moving quickly now, I found myself down a hallway covered in Jesus, with the occasional sample paper ballot taped to the wall between this Biblical scene and that Biblical scene. I passed this information on to the two concerned black women I'd spoken with earlier, all of us relieved that if anything went wrong, there is a paper trail.
I entered the line for A-G and talked with a man named Carter, who works for a funeral home. He was personable and told me he was a lobbyist when I mentioned my concerns about Virginia being the Ohio of 2004 and the Florida of 2000. He'd said that most of Virginia is on the straight and narrow, and this had to do with the military mindset. He told me about the Fightin' Ninth district, on the west side of the state, where politics are corrupt, so far from my own Hampton Roads. We talked about the winter weather here and in the mountains of Northern Arizona, where he'd visited not long ago, pronouncing Presscot like an outsider, how I used to say it. Various locals, probably mostly churchgoers, greeted Carter. He'd told me about one local winter, during which he had a vision of a burning bush and how that's when he'd realized, maybe really realized, about God. I wanted to make a joke about seeing a burning Bush in the White House, but held my tongue, simply hoping for Obama's win. I liked Carter and enjoyed his conversation. He began chatting it up with other people he knew.
My line was held up. A black woman was taking up a lot of time. After a few minutes she stepped aside and I moved closer to the sign in table. She told us how she had moved six years ago, voted in the last election and in the primaries this past season at her current address, yet all of a sudden the paperwork had her registered at her old address. I said, loudly and clearly, that this sounded fishy. I hope she gets to vote. I am a resident of only three months, my voter registration dated 4 September, exactly two months ago, yet I was in the paperwork...
Finally, I checked in, giving my driver's license and voter card to the woman who referenced her paperwork. I declared my full legal name and address, and was marked in at number 28 of A-G by the other woman working the table and was handed my blank paper ballot.
I took this ballot to the "voting booth," which was a small row of tables with sort of private walls. I then used the provided marking pen to completely fill in the circles for Democrats Obama, Warner (Senate), and the vote for the House for my district. I brought my form over to the machine that looks like a giant paper shredder, placed my form down face up, and the machine sucked in my vote. Then I got my sticker!
After the Vote
I got into the car and turned on the CD player. Bruce Springsteen's "The Last To Die" from the 2008 We Thought We'd Live Forever live concert bootleg came on.
Who'll be the last to die for a mistake
The last to die for a mistake
Will Darlin' tyrants and kings fall to the same fate
Strung up at your city gates
Who'll be the last to die for a mistake
Whatever the results of the election, good-bye George W, good-bye. I'll tell him. You tell him too, Bruce.
I suppose this is enough to rejoice given the past eight years of economic downturns, warmongering, profiteering, religious hatred, political hatred, and everything else that represents the horrific Bush legacy. Could a McPalin administration really keep up this level of horror and ultra-violence?
Still, I hope G. B. Trudeau is correct in his prediction, otherwise we'll have a week of Doonesbury reprints.
Photographer Clayton Cubitt lets us know what to do in case you're told you can't vote.
Making it Count: How to Protect Your Vote & Spot Dirty Tricks
The message I attached to an email from Moveon.org as I forwarded the organization's email about getting out to vote for Obama, and working class families to 103 friends and family that I am proud to know (even if they vote McPalin):
My friends and family,
Most of us are working class people. This election is not about lower class, or middle class, or upper class. It's not about black interests, or white interests. It's about, we, the working class and the power to control our futures.
Do you really need to think about who is best for the working class? Do we need to think of who will help us and who will harm us? Who will provide us with more opportunities to better our lives, and the lives of those we love?
I voted today at approximately 6:15 am, after waiting for 45 minutes. Not much of a wait at all.
Please. Vote today. Four more years of Bushie tactics, lies, and turmoil, or the chance for something new, and for the redemption of our country, The United States of America?
So whether you're in New York, Arizona, California, Nevada, or where ever...think about your future, our future, because we all share in the mirth as well as the misery. Let us take part in our Democratic Republic and choose mirth together.
With love, respect, and admiration for you all,
Paul Gasparo Jr