Thursday, October 30, 2008

Blue dot in a red state

Or perhaps not, according to some polls--I might get to go back to being a blue dot in a blue state!

Georgia is one of the ones that allows early voting, which started a while ago. There are only a few polling places open. You can go to any of them within your county.

Patrick has been wanting to go vote for Barack Obama with me since I indoctrinated educated him about why we think he will be a better president for the country. I had these lovely, sweet images of taking him on Election Day to our local polling place, with Christy and Rhianna and their moppets. We would sit chatting for a little while, having fun while the children played their games. In a short while, maybe 30 minutes, it would be our turn to vote. This was all based on my presidential election voting experience in Decatur of 4 years ago.

Fast forward to this year. Headlines on the news every night: "Voters across the metro Atlanta area are waiting in line for hours to vote early!" "Lines are predicted to be 6 hours or more on Election Day!" "By the time the polls open on Election Day, the lines will be too long to get through in 12 hours!" Or something like that.

So I gave up my idealistic notion and figured that I would make it a fun trip for early voting for Patrick and I. We left yesterday morning and got doughnuts to eat on the way there, dressed reasonably but not particularly warmly for the weather. After all, it was early voting and surely it wouldn't be a long wait. The polls opened at 9 a.m. and we arrived at about 9:30 to find at least 500 people in line. In 40 degree weather. As soon as I got my jaw off the floor of my car, I turned to Patrick and said that we'd try again the next day.

This morning, we planned ruthlessly. We chose the polling place in Norcross rather than the one in Lawrenceville, on the hopes that it would be less crowded. We dressed extremely warmly. We awoke early and planned to get there at 7:30 a.m., though they didn't open until 9. We brought food and books and a blanket in which to wrap ourselves. By the time we got there (actual time about 7:50 a.m.), there must have been 150 people in line in front of us.


Regardless, we got into the line and made ourselves comfortable while wrapped in a bright orange-and-pumpkin-covered Halloween-themed blanket and eating NutriGrain bars. We were surrounded by wonderful and expressive people who have similar political views as my own, so during times that I wasn't reading Curious George or Disney stories, I was engaged in discussions of why we think that we need to vote the way we do. Patrick was a very good kid, cold and sniffly but a trooper.

At 10:00, we were given forms to fill out for early voting. At 10:15 we were about to go into the building, and I thought that all I had left to do was turn in my form and vote. I was getting a little concerned since I only had 15 minutes before I absolutely had to leave to get to my class on time. At 10:20, we made it into the building. It was there that I discovered that there were several more lines inside. On the bright side, I did regain feeling in my toes at that point.

Well, Patrick proudly voted for Barack Obama eventually and I voted for all the other candidates for which I needed to vote. We made it back to our car at 10:50. I had an 11:00 class. I was 20-25 minutes from school and still needed to drop off Patrick at his school.

Thankfully, I was showing a movie today (GATTACA, a fabulous movie to show in a genetics class). I called my department chair and asked if she would grab the movie from my desk and pop it in, and promise my students that I would be back. And believe it or not, when I raced into class at 11:25, my students were still there and still watching the movie! They chided me for being late in the same way that I chide them, and then we were all engrossed in the movie again.

As of today, something like a million and a half Georgians have cast early ballots. Very impressive. While I strongly, vehemently disagree with the way a lot of the people here will vote, I am very happy to see so many people out there to do so.

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