Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day 2008, Part I

6:00-7:30 am. Out of bed at six o'clock. Clear skies, with a forecast high of 70°F and voter turnout projected at around 80% in Minnesota. The first results are already in from Dixville Notch, the small New Hampshire village where polls open at midnight. For only the second time in history, Dixville Notch chose the Democratic Presidential candidate.

The last few weeks of the election season have been strange in Northfield. Last week, Northfield's mayor was charged with five counts of misconduct by an elected official and two counts of conflict of interest following a protracted investigation of his conduct in office. This came on top of news that a candidate for city council had been charged with removing public documents from City Hall. Finally, and most bizarrely, a visiting theater professor at St. Olaf College was charged with a misdemeanor, and forced to resign from his position, after confessing in an essay on the Huffington Post that he had stolen McCain/Palin lawn signs along rural Highway 19.

At 6:30 a.m., Clara and I were at Goodbye Blue Monday, getting our large coffees and almond croissants from Ryan, one of my former Latin students at Carleton. Griff Wigley, Northfield's uberblogger, was already in his customary seat in the front corner of the coffee shop, blogging the start of Election Day. With coffee in hand, Clara and I walked up the hill to the First United Church of Christ to vote. At 6:45 am, there were already about two dozen people in line ahead of us, including a pair of students eager to vote before their 8:00 am chemistry lab. Behind us in line was an American history teacher who had an amazing amount of election history at her fingertips. She was able to tell us, for example, that it was the Twenty-Third Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1961, that gave the District of Columbia Presidential electors. Meanwhile, another fifty or so people had joined the line in back of us.

The doors opened at 7:00 a.m. and we had another ten minutes or so in line before we signed in and received our official ballots . At about 7:15 am, I was walking out of the church with a red "I Voted" sticker on my blue shirt. Clara's was the twenty-third ballot recorded at our polling place, and mine was the twenty-sixth.

Griff has photographs from the opening of the polls in Northfield posted here.


Shan said...

I decided to hold off on going to the polls until Christopher gets home from work tonight, for fear of ending up in a long line with a 2 year old and a 4 year old. But I'm itching to go, and it's hard to wait. It's going to feel like a long, jittery, exciting day. Loved reading this! Thanks for the summary of the beginning of Election Day!

Shan said...

P.S. Oddly enough (considering where we live), my polling place is UCC too; was hoping maybe I'd run into you at the polls today! But I should have known you'd be there bright and early. You missed Christopher, who went at about 7:45.

Jim H. said...

It's odd, standing in line at a church (our precinct polling place is the Methodist church) to vote. I remember my parents going to the nearby fire station, which was much more fun for us kids! My dad worked a few elections as the voting machine mechanic-on-call (back in the days of those giant grey metal monsters with levers and curtains). He was happy to see them retired.

Mary Schier said...

Rob: You're lucky your wait was only 10 minutes. I'm an election judge at NCRC and the line was out the door at 7. Most of the earliest voters waited about a half hour, but the lines were much shorter (or nonexistent) later in the morning. When I voted at 2:15 at the Methodist Church (after finishing my judging shift), there was no line, but turnout is very strong. That's always a good thing!

Christopher Tassava said...

Great post, Rob - it was good to see you earlier today too!

New Poem: "Phrasebook"

My poem " Phrasebook " has been published online in Ergon: Greek/American Arts and Letters .