Consider this the open thread to talk about your voting experiences. I'll try to get first comment here in a minute.
TAVA president and frequent guest blogger Monica Helms sent us in a guest post about her early voting experience, and that's after the jump. Bilerico contributor Jeremy Bishop took some photos of "the view of the Washington, DC, residents braving a two-hour line to vote. Even when their vote really doesn't count. These pictures are of Watkins Elementary on Capitol Hill."
Three Hours to get my Peach
(Sung to the tune of the Gilligan's Island theme.)
"Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a faithful vote,
That started in this Southern State, on a day to wear a coat.
This girl is a mighty Democrat, who's never, ever late,
But, standing in that line that day, was a three hour wait,
A three hour wait."
Somehow, that song came to mind when I finally saved my selections on the computer and got my "I am a Georgia Voter" peach, three hours to the minute from when I first stood in line. In about three-quarters of the country, states have initiated early voting and Georgia is one of them.
The news told many stories about long lines and hours of waiting before people could get to vote. On Monday, October 27, is some parts of Georgia, people waited for seven hours to vote and in other parts, they waited ten hours. Tuesday and Wednesday the wait dropped to four hours in many places. I felt lucky for only having to wait three hours. The good thing about Georgia is that if you get in line before 7 PM, the polls will stay open until that last person votes.
I heard on the news earlier that the Florida Republican Governor, Charlie Crist, signed an executive order extending the polling hours and allowing people to vote on the weekend. He didn't want people to accuse Florida of having problems like what happened in 2000. Several Georgia officials have requested that we do the same thing here, but the Republican Secretary of State, Karen Handel, simply said, "It's against the Georgia law."
I'm not surprised that our state will do nothing to help more people get out and vote. Georgia has had a long history of doing whatever they could to disenfranchise voters and suppress their right to vote. We won't see our Republican Governor, Sonny Perdue, sign any executive order to help voters, because Republicans think that extending early voting will help Democrats.
I live in Cobb County and I had a polling location just down the street from where I worked, at the Cobb Galleria, so I got in the line right away. The temperature at the time was in the low 60s, but the day before, they had temperatures in the low 50s. The weather looked favorably down on me. I brought two sandwiches and ate one of them right away. Time: 5:20 PM EDT.
Shortly after getting in line, two women who worked for the sports bar Jocks and Jills came out with a cart of hot chocolate in cups. They wanted the voters to stay warm. We followed the line from one end of the long building to the other, then it came back to the middle of the build so we could go inside. Once inside, I saw that the line snaked from the doors to the other end of the long walkway, back to the doors and then back to the other end of the walkway. Time: 6:10 PM EDT.
"The massive line was way too long, and my legs might never hold
The only thought running through my mind was, 'It's hell getting old.
It's hell getting old'."
Before I got to the far end of the walkway the second time, I had eaten the second sandwich and talked with my mother. My new phone allowed me to go on line and when I did, I discovered my friend had won a contest. I also had a chance to read any new E-mails as soon as my phone received them. It took awhile, but I made it to the other end of the walkway a second time. Time: 7:00 PM EDT.
When I turned the corner from the long walkway, I discovered the line twisted and turned along the outside of the huge open area in the middle of the mall, sometimes snaking around the small shops in the middle. During this part of the wait, I listened to music and did some aerobic dancing, while standing in line. I also made some more phone calls and again read E-mails. After the long journey, I made it to the room that contained the voting machines, but I couldn't see them from that end of the room. Time: 7:50 PM EDT.
I reached the next step, a table where I had to fill out a form that would allow the computers to find my house and provide me an electronic voting card with the appropriate choices for my part of Cobb County. As I waited for the next person with a computer to be freed up, I talked with the polling volunteer at the head of the line. She told me that they had over 11,000 people who voted at that one polling place in Cobb County in the last three days. After seeing the line I had to stand in, I believed it.
The moment of truth arrived. I placed the card in the machine and up popped the first choice, my choice for President. With the eagerness of a school girl on her first date, I touched the screen and watched in delight as the "X" appeared next to Senator Barack Obama's name. After 22 months of listening to and watching campaign speeches, debates, political commercials, polls, pundits, commentators, right wing nuts, left wing nuts, lies, half truths, deceptions, outrageous statements, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, promises, a plunging economy and rising gas prices, I get to earn my "I am a Georgia Voter" peach. Damn, it was the hardest and most valuable voter peach I have ever earned. Time: 8:20 PM EDT.
"I finally made it to the end of this long, long voting line.
With Obama, and his VP, too. Jim Martin and his wife.
The voting star. The tax assessor and Mary Ann,
Here at the polling place."
It isn't over. I got to vote, but the end of this journey for the candidates is still on Tuesday, November 4, 2008, sometime late into the night. Democrats all across this country still need to get out and vote. I will be at a Georgia Democratic results-watching party someplace in Atlanta on that Tuesday night, cheering each time a state is placed in the Obama column. And, when Obama is declared the winner, the real works begins.