Amazingly in less than an hour.
M left the house around 6:30 and I stayed home to sleep in… I mean watch Finn. She called to wake me up a little after 7 to let me know how long the lines were so I dragged myself into action. Oatmeal for Finn while I showered and then we were off. Dropped Finn off at school and then the long haul to our voting precinct.
We live in an oddly gerrymandered district. One would think that we would vote at Norrell, it being only a couple of blocks from our house. Nope. Perhaps we should vote at the library on North Avenue. Nope – although we do drive by it on the way to our precinct. No, we drive up North, down Brookland Parkway and down 1st, passing a number of other precincts to get to our rather remote spot – a firehouse that doesn’t even serve our neighbourhood. Normally this difficult set-up accomplishes it’s nefarious task of voter suppresion by increasing the difficulty of voting, but not today.
I arrived in the light rain and took my place in line. The atmosphere was upbeat but there were a lot of questions being asked. It was surprising how many people, some older than I, who had never voted before and were unsure what to do. The newbies were helped by various poll workers while others walked around extolling the virtues of their respective candidate. The most interesting person I met there was Art Burton’s daughter – seems we have a common friend – RVA Foodie. She reffered to him as her ‘home boy’.
The level of confusion was evident as I entered the firehouse. Just because the letters A-K and L-Z may give you the impression that you have split voting population in two it doesn’t really work that way. One line was much longer than the other. Not to mention the fact that splitting the voters in two may have been a good idea in the past it may have been prudent to form three or even four line to help move things along.
A poll worker at the door was directing people to their assigned lines but for some odd reason kept pulling all the J’s out to the side. So, there we sat. Feeling a little singled out and unsure what to do. She returned and moved us to one of the many, overlapping, confused lines in the firehouse. Watching the whole scene I started mapping out how, if I was a bad person, I could jump lines and possibly even vote more than once. Hopefully they were paying closer attention then it seemed and even if I were so inclined to beat the system the odds of failure were pretty high as the few of us with white skin stood out just a tad.
It was about this time that I passed M as she was waiting for a voting machine. She had been there for nearly two hours at this point. She informed me that it had taken her an hour to get where I had gotten to in a little under a half hour. Guess it paid to sleep in a bit…
The first signs of real trouble appeared as I approached the registrars desk. A young Arab gentleman, who barely spoke English, didn’t seem to be on the voter rolls. He had looked nervous the entire time in line and I would be lying if I said people weren’t giving him unpleasant looks. The problem was pretty evident to me – the id he kept waving about listed him as a resident alien. My guess is that he wasn’t on the voter rolls as he wasn’t a citizen.
As he was pulled to the side I stepped up and was told I was in the wrong line…. Yep, we were in the line for L-Z. I informed the poll officer that this is where I had been told to go and that the five or six people behind me were also J’s and had been told to stand in this line. No problem, she said, just step to the front of the other line. My turn to get dirty looks from others….
So, I was off for yet another line – this time for the voting machines. In the past we have had three machines in our precinct, although usually only two are functional. Today we have a whopping four. Sad. We really needed at least five to keep things moving although maybe more people working the voter roll books might have made it work even better.
A couple of minutes later and I was at the electronic machine. Obama, yes. Warner, yes. Jones, yes. Burton, yes. Two additional votes were cast but there were no opponents. Both of these people should have been challenged. Ellen Robertson, I voted for her but feel she has ingnored the district for a while now. Perhaps someone will step up and challenge her next time. Same for Bobby Scott, I voted for him but would have voted against him had there been a challenger. He has been an empty suit for quite some time now.
So, my duty done, I headed off to open the store. Now the real waiting begins.