Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

Election Morning

I have been saying for so long that it's become an unthinking mantra that I love my apartment but I don't so much love my neighborhood. This morning, however, this morning I did love my neighborhood. Or at least I loved the neighborhood as defined by my polling district, which is essentially Powderhorn Park with me living on the very edge.

The lines to vote were notably longer than they'd ever been, although the wait wasn't -- when you have paper ballots you can just set up a bunch of extra tables and you do not have a voting booth bottleneck. In my profession we call this scalable parallel processing. The lines were relatively slow to check in (it's a small enough room that they only let small numbers of people in at a time, which really did keep things moving once you got in the door), and there were slow lines for new voter registrants (all of whom came armed with piles of documentation!), but once you checked in the long line to get a ballot moved amazingly fast. When I arrived and saw a line heading half a block out into the street I wasn't expecting the total voting time to be maybe 15 minutes.

With so many folks there at 7:45am, I saw my neighborhood in all its funky diversity. Usually, on voting day, I stand in line with what look like a slew of unrepentant hippies, the folks who you only otherwise see at the Mayday Parade and Festival in Powderhorn Park. My friends Rudd and Kay were there, with their 18-year-old son who is voting for the first time, and they fit this demographic. But this year I saw the new generation of funky residents: Young folk with unusual haircuts and tattoos. I saw women in Muslim dress (our Congressional representative is the only Muslim in Congress). I saw many more black faces that I remember seeing in the past. One of the funky young folks said to the guys he had come with, "These are our neighbors!".

So that was fun. There was a young woman who was very upset because of some problem with going to the wrong line when she needed to register -- something like that -- who was giving the poll volunteers an obnoxiously hard time about how it shouldn't take an hour to vote. From my point of view I saw the volunteers working very hard to help people, and yes they didn't always know immediately what to do or where to go so it took time to figure things out for some individuals, but I thought the complaining lady was completely out of line. The issue is that in Minnesota you can register on election day, which I'm all for 100 per cent completely. Anyway, with that one exception, nobody else seemed to mind the line and I overheard more than one person expressing great delight that there were so many people voting. As I say, the prominent demographic here is unrepentant hippie.

I don't know if this was a national program or not, but there were "kid voting" booths -- cardboard displays and special ballots and even ballot boxes. I saw two kids who looked to be about 6 or 7 carefully filling out their ballots with some help from the volunteers and seriously depositing them in the kid ballot boxes. Did anybody else see anything like this?

So that was a good start to the day. In fact, I always like the voting experience.
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