Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Small Town Voting

In the last Presidential election, my polling place was in a large suburban area. I had to stand in line to get to one of four or five tables, separated by sections of the alphabet, to check my registration. Then I moved to another line in front of a bank of voting machines - still the lumbering, curtained, mechanical beasts. By the time I made my way to a machine, cast my vote, double checked it and made my way outside, about 30 minutes or so had passed.

Last summer, my wife and I moved to a very small town, Marion, NY (map) and I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I made my way to the small elementary school in the village center. There were no signs, either outside or inside the school pointing the way towards the polling station. So I made my way - it's amazing how even a school I've never set foot in can evoke such strong memories - and eventually found my way to the auditorium.

I stuck my head inside the door and what I saw made me smile.

There was one table, staffed by three "little old ladies," of the kind you could only find in a small town; anyone would have loved to have had any one of them as a grandmother. Next to the table, where they checked my registration, marveled over my registration card (which is apparently new, they had only seen one other), and chatted with me was a lone voting machine. There were no other voters there as it was already close to 8:00 pm so I was in and out in just a few minutes. (Dr. Dean got my vote.) The late hour and the fact that I was voting Democratic in a small, rural town that is likely 80% Republican probably accounted for the lack of other voters. It was, nonetheless, one of those wonderfully ordinary events that never fails to strike me as very inspiring.

The local news this morning stated that about 20% of registered Democrats had voted in last nights Primary and that John Kerry easily carried the state as he did in all the other "Super Tuesday" states save Vermont. I contrasted that sorry statistic with how voting makes me feel and I could only shake my head.

I also realized that it will be John Kerry on whom all our hopes and desires will be pinned come November. I hope we are all ready for the onslaught from the Republican spin machine aided by $100 million and a complacent media. We have a big fight ahead of us - we're going to need a lot more than 20% of Democrats voting in November.

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