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04 November 2008 @ 08:01 am
Election day  
I recently started riding my bicycle again, so in the chilly dawn I biked down to my polling place a little before 7 this morning. There was a line at the local elementary school where I vote--I'd thought about waiting until after folks with day jobs went to work to head down there, but I was awake, and I wanted to get this done. lnhammer, who does have a day job and who made it out of bed a few minutes before me was already there. Folks laughed a little as I greeted him and then took my own place in line, but when they suggested I stand beside him, I told them that was okay, I could wait my turn.

It was pleasant, waiting in line with other folks from my neighborhood--students and retirees, a family who brought their toddler along, as they had for the primaries (twice then, once with each parent, but this time they were voting at the same time). A couple of people pulled out cell phones as they waited. "Yes. I'm here." "I'm in line to vote." "If I'm late, just open the room for me." "If you come and vote, you get free coffee at Starbuck's." But no one who saw that line turned around and left, at least not that I noticed.

It wasn't that long a line really--maybe a half hour. I cast my ballot, for president, for congress, for local propositions that took a bit more time and research than either of those races did. Our ballots are neither lever nor touch screen--we fill in the ovals by our choices, much like one does on standardized tests. (Do they still do that on standardzed tests?)

When I left, the line was nearly gone, just a few folks waiting outside the door. I headed just beyond the 75-foot "no campaigning" barrier, to a bake sale run by the school, and picked up a doughnut. Then I bicycled back home, the sun already beginning to warm this desert city. As I did, I realized the fears I felt around this election--and there are more than a few--had momentarily melted away, and I simply felt good: about voting, and about being a part of my community.

And though I'd thought about voting early, just then I was very glad I'd waited until election day to cast my ballot.

(kmessner is collecting voting stories and photos from around the country here. Share yours, and tell her about it!)