It was 5:15ish when I felt two hands quietly shifting my body. "Hey are you still going to come?" Last night I had excitedly declared that I wanted to accompany Fi to the polling location this morning when he said he was going to get up and get there to wait on line for an early morning chance to vote. Now he was calling me on it. I opened my eyes and in the dark, I could make out the fact that he was already awake and dressed. I wondered if he'd already had coffee, too, and rolled out of bed to play catch-up to his prepared Voting self.
As I got ready to accompany Fi to the nearby poll he was assigned to, I thought about the fact that I have never voted in an actual voting booth in my life, only by absentee. I've been in school for so long and in so many locations, I decided not to change over my legal residence everywhere I went (I didn't get any in-state benefits so it seemed pointless otherwise), therefore, I've always voted by absentee ballot. I haven't seen what a voting booth looks like since I accompanied my mom as a child and fought over which of us children would get to pull the lever. What I imagined I would see at the Missouri polls is not at all what came true. Our voting location growing up was the fire station down the street from our house. The polling station here in MO was at a place the Shriners (my impression is that they're like an Elk Club?) use or own. We were super excited when we got there and, luckily, since it was only 5:30am, there was still a place to park in the lot, though not many. This is what greeted us at the entrance to the polling location.
No Campaigning, bitches! Not even a t-shirt!
And outside the polling location.
When we got inside, there were at least fifteen people waiting ahead of us. Lucky for him, Fi did not finish his coffee before we arrived.
We waited! And Fi was the tenth person to vote that morning, though it took way longer than I thought it would (you can see the waiting voters in the background). The above photo is the BEFORE photo.
This is the AFTER photo. Doesn't he look like a better person, now?
When we were done, we drove around Columbia and checked out the rest of the voting locations we could find. They were completely packed and busy. While I was waiting for him, people just kept coming to vote...again and again. D explained that inside the voting room they had set up sit-down areas with dividers and the voters filled out the ballots with black, felt tip markers. Hmm. Not what I expected. I think that explains why it took so long for him to come out and the line to dwindle. More people kept coming, the parking lot filled up and spilled over into the street and neighboring empty lots. There were old people, young people, all kinds of ethnic backgrounds...etc. I could feel this swelling of pride in my stomach. It didn't matter, at that moment, who they voted for, it just mattered that there were so many people turning out to vote. Two first-time voters showed up with their dad, an old-barely-ambulatory woman came with her daughter. A historic turn-out for an historic election. Can it be more exciting???
Then we celebrated with a Panera egg sandwich that I've been dying to try out for months. (Tasty, but un-exciting.)
Celebratory Panera Breakfast Sandwich.
Celebratory Panera Breakfast Sandwich.
I've heard several places are offering freebees for voters today! We didn't need that incentive, but if you do head to Starbucks for a free tall drink (after you vote, that is).
I've been glued to the t.v. all day and need to convince myself that by going to the rec center I will not miss out on anything (though, did you guys hear that the two smallest towns in the country-both in New Hampshire and below 20 people in population, I think, voted in Obama as their candidate???). What if I miss another update like that!?! Aaah! The pressure and excitement!!!
Tonight, we'll be at Liz's "freaking out" together! Stay glued to your t.v. sets and cheer like you're on Team America (cus, after all, we all are, aren't we?).
More to come later.