Voting: An (Almost) Live Report From Ground Zero

I just voted.  The polling station was very crowded.  It is pouring rain (somehow appropriate).  Parking was difficult.  We voted at a local elementary school, the students with the day off.  There was a crowd of about fifteen people outside, holding umbrellas, handing out their filers and stickers, or simply making a plea for the favored candidate they volunteer for.  I ignored every single one of them.


Inside you see your neighbors working the polling stations (for insight into this job, see my commentary from yesterday, “The Confessions of a Pollster.”)  Some of them you know, most you don’t.  They are always trying to be friendly and enthusiastic, encouraging you to vote despite the fact that you have already arrived to do just that.  They are supposed to be non-partisan, but I guess this election has riled so many people up that a few of the angrier pollers, both left and right, grumble to their personal friends about how they hope this or that candidate wins or loses.  It is rather invasive, should you care.  Luckily I do not care what they have to say.  My mind has long since been made up.


I will not say who I voted for (if you decide to parse through a number of the earlier pieces, that should become pretty obvious), but I will say that my community appears to be pretty evenly split, although the animus this sometimes brings is not particularly noticeable today, while people solemnly wait in line to pretend like their voices are about to be heard.  As a matter of fact, this community, so evenly split, probably is one of the places where a majority vote will make a little difference, electing this or that person to Congress (we have two districts between us) and that or the other person for State Representative.  We also have a vote for Governor and Senator, to which our voice will add a tiny squeak to statewide tally, here in this rather populous section of the USA.


Here are a few whispered words: “We gotta vote Trump out.  You’re not voting for him, are you?”


These two people, clearly in agreement with one another, thus making the question entirely superfluous, seem to have a misguided idea about this election.  Regardless of the impact this may or may not have on the President’s remaining two years of this term, they are not actually voting for President.  That is already decided.  My guess is that they lost, or at least feel betrayed.


“I don’t like what the Republicans are doing, but at least it isn’t Socialism,” another person says to their spouse.  The spouse nods.  It is unlikely that either of them knows even the basic idea of what Socialism is, but are employing it in the same way the smearing political ads have been using it, as a negative buzz word that subtly evokes apocalypse.


One young, newly voting age girl says to her mother, louder than other people, “It’s the year of the woman!  Are there women running in every contest?”  The answer to this is no, both the Senate and Governor exclusively male (we will disregard the third party candidates here, because no one takes them seriously in this community).  One Congressional race is both women, another is not, and the state representative race is also two women.


These two people, mother and daughter, appear to be split in their political ideologies.  The mother rolls her eyes at her daughter, perhaps imagining that someday she will grow up and see the error of her ways.  She accepts that maybe some young people lean to the left, but comforts herself in the fact that the youth vote, regardless of its presumed increase this election, is usually so small.  Mom smiles, pats her daughter on the back, no doubt a moderate Republican herself, no sneer, just dismissive tolerance.  If this were a presidential election, I suspect she would be more conflicted.


Other people mumble and chat about anything but politics.  They spread rumors about their neighbors.  They talk about sports.  They praise or condemn their children.  They want to forget about the stress and tension both local and federal government has caused them, and the entire nation.  The whole world, in fact.


It is just another day in America.

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