Doug voted this morning and waited an hour. Got in line at 6:40am and didn't get out until 7:30. I myself ended up going at lunchtime (big mistake!) and waited 1.5 hours. I didn't want to risk standing in line with Roman for who-knows-how-long, so not too bad - took a book and enjoyed the company of my precinct neighbors. Ro had a babysitter.
On Monday my students and I looked at sample ballots and talked about how to cast a ballot. The kids were pretty amazed at how much was on it - I'm sure they figured it was president and maybe senators, and that would be it. We laughed a bit about "pick no more than 18" judges and that sort of thing, but one comment made by a kid cracked me up. He first stared at me incredulously and said, "how do you guys know what to do?" I said that an intelligent voter would listen, perhaps do research, and know what they felt strongly about and choose a candidate that was aligned with their beliefs. His second comment was, "what will you do if you have to wait a long time?" I said I'd bring a book. And he stared at me again and said, "a BOOK?!" I don't know what shocked him more - that I would do research on candidates, or that I would want to read for an hour or more!
Roman, too, has been getting into the voting spirit. He's been hearing about it on radio and tv, of course, and us talking about it at home. He has been asking the past few days which person was which, and trying to get their pictures straight. They held a mock election on Monday in his school, and Roman came home pretty upset. "I tried to vote for Obama but I voted for McCain instead!" It turns out when he got the ballot, he got confused about who was who, and ended up voting for McCain. Poor kid - didn't know he could request another! Disenfranchised kindergartener. He begged us at dinner to vote for Obama "for me" which cracked us up as well. When we asked why he chose Obama, he answered as many people would I think - "all my friends want him, and you guys don't." Pretty rebellious for a 5-year-old, eh?
I find it great that an African-American is running for the first time, and that a woman was chosen as a running mate for the Republicans for the first time. An historic election, indeed. A coworker asked, "what do you tell someone who says they don't want to vote because the electoral college decides it anyway?" I used to say that your vote selects the electoral college, or I would play on the war/patriotism angle "people died for us to keep this right!" But it turns out my minister had the best comment. Voting represents the ideals of our country - a government by the people, for the people. It is a physical statement that you believe in America and all that it stands for. It shows the world that by standing in line and casting your vote, what we believe in is important.
And lastly... boy, was I aware of things back in 2004 or what? (and by the way, when I say he's not African-American, I mean a descendant of slaves).