Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Not So Easy

Remember when I said how easy it was for me to vote? Well, circumstances made a liar out of me. As the elevator door opened at 8:45am, much to my surprise, my lobby looked like a zoo. There were people everywhere, and lines that stretched outside the front door. As I exited the building to take my place at the end of the line, I was even further astonished to see the queue extending almost to the end of the block.

I did predict a big turnout, but this was beyond my expectations. By comparison, when I voted at this location for the primaries, there was no line at all. When I voted in 2000, it took all of 10 minutes to complete the process.

Despite the length of the line, and the slowness of its progression (I did not cast my vote until 11:00am - 2 hours and 15 minutes later), people were congenial and upbeat throughout. I did not see one person leave the line out of frustration. Instead, there was a stubborn, dig-in-your-heels determination. The Starbucks next to my building even got into the spirit of things serving complimentary hot chocolate to the patient, but slightly chilled, voters. Just when you're convinced Starbucks is evil, they go and serve hot chocolate to the people. It's hard to hate when your sipping such drinks on a cold morning.

This scene did give me cause for concern though. If this is what the situation was like in NYC, without a legion of GOP voter challengers, what kind of mess must Ohio and Pennsylvania be today? The GOP intention is to create long, interminable lines in minority communities to discourage voters and depress turnout. If the lines are already long due to sheer turnout, their jobs may be made that much easier.

Here's to hoping that somehow every effort is made to let every citizen vote, and to have each valid vote counted. If that means keeping the polls open late, please do so. If it means limiting the spurious challenges by GOP voter suppression operatives, so be it. This is America, and every vote should count. To strategize ways to prevent this from occurring is, dare I say it, unpatriotic.

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