Yesterday was a rainy, cool, dreary day, but I went out in it anyway. I went to vote. The County Services Building is where the Florence County Voter Registration office is now, and from the looks of the parking lot I figured there would be a line. Wow. There wasn’t just a line but a crowd. It was nice to see several friends volunteering behind the counter, treating the voters with courtesy and a smile. And with prayers, which I’m sure they were saying in their hearts as they went about their chores.
In the waiting room every seat was taken and thirty or forty other folks were standing, milling around. Another would-be voter already waiting instructed me what to do – hand in your registration card at the window and they’ll call you. I handed in my card, explaining about the cruddy condition of it (jeans pocket, washing machine), and found a handy spot along a wall to wait.
I asked a woman close to me how long she’d been there. Twenty minutes so far, she said, but they had told her there would be about half an hour’s wait. I figured I could last that long. In a few minutes a married couple I hadn’t seen since Tim died came in, handed in their cards and then stood with me, catching up on a little news. As more and more people shoved their way into the room, closing ranks was tough – three doorways had to be kept clear. A good bit of shifting went on and some folks edged their way out into the hallway, staying within earshot.
A woman came out from behind the counter with a handful of registration cards and started calling out names. Not to let us go vote, just to return our cards. We had been entered into the computer and had been found worthy (eligible) to vote there. Soon we would be called again, this time to sign our absentee application. After that we would be escorted to another room where electronic machines were kept under the secure eagle-eye of other staff.
Thirty minutes after my arrival, my name was called and I elbowed my way to the counter where a clean and shiny card was handed to me! My old one had gone through the washer and dryer several years ago. Though thoroughly scotch-taped up from stem to stern it had remained readable, but now I had a spick and span new edition. It was nice of the clerk to do this considering everything else she had to do, and all the disgruntled voters she had to do it for.
I gratefully accepted the card and tried to return to my spot to chat with my friends again. No such luck, I wound up across the room, alone with my thoughts (and prayers) in the crowd.
Forty-five minutes after my arrival my name was called again. I signed the application form and a lady escorted three of us voters a few yards down the hall to the relative peace and quiet of the voting room. In less than five minutes I made my selections, chose “Yes” on all the amendments, rechecked my choices and that was it. I had officially voted.
The last time it took me that long to vote was another Presidential election, that one on the regular day and at my regular precinct. A very long line, somewhat noisy but friendly, zigged and zagged across the Delmae cafetorium. Tim was with me and we kept seeing people we knew as we inched our way forward so the time didn’t seem to pass too slowly. We were there probably an hour and a half despite the fact we’d gone in the middle of the morning, usually the least busy hours.
I hate to think what the lines and the waits will be like this election day. I’m glad I was eligible (being 65 now) and made the effort to vote early, rain or no rain.