November 4, 2008: My Voting Experience

I live in California, and my polling place is in the board room at the college campus where I work.

I live in a particularly conservative part of the state, and I’ve voted at this location for a number of years.

In past years, if there has been much of a line at all, I’ve shared it with mostly white, older voters who live in the neighborhoods surrounding the college.

Since California is not a swing state, I took it for granted that I’d probably be the first person in line at this location (I arrived at 6:00 AM, a full hour before the polls opened).

I was somewhat surprised, however, when I found that I was actually the sixteenth person in line, and that thirteen of the people ahead of me were African American.

It was a truly moving, and surprising, discovery—to see that so many people had beat me to the polls this morning—and it forcefully occured to me, at that moment, that this might indeed be an historic day.

As I stood there and looked down the line in front of me, and thought about what this election might mean for America, I actually felt teary, and feared that I might start sobbing in line. But I held it together, and sat on the floor, and started reading the book that I had brought with me, which was titled, Short Fiction: Classic and Contemporary, edited by Charles Bohner.

I was reading D.H. Lawrence’s story, “The Rocking-Horse Winner.”

It is the story of a boy who, for love of his mother, tried to break a curse of bad luck that hung over his family:

When the two girls were playing dolls in the nursery, he would sit on his big rocking-horse, charging madly into space, with a frenzy that made the little girls peer at him uneasily. Wildly the horse careered, the waving dark hair of the boy tossed, his eyes had a strange glare in them. The little girls dared not speak to him. 

Within twenty minutes of my arrival, the line behind me was snaking out the door and onto the walkway alongside the Student Services Building.

At 7:00 AM an elderly black woman in a red windbreaker came out of the boardroom, walked down the line of voters, and announced with a big smile, “Hear ye, hear ye, the polls are now open!”—and you could feel a palpable sense of release and pleasure in the air as people began to funnel into the board room to vote.

There were actually quite a few voting stalls set up, and I was able to vote and leave within just 15 minutes of entering the board room. After I left, I walked across the parking lot adjacent to the polling place and snapped this picture of the line of citizens waiting to vote:

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I then walked into an empty quad area and snapped this picture of the sunlight in the east working its way through clouds:

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Before the sun came out, there had been a hard rain.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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2 Responses to November 4, 2008: My Voting Experience

  1. sfokc6125 says:

    Everyone who reads this go and vote for John McCain . The black panthers have been intimidating any one from the polling locations saying dont bother to vote a blackman has already won. We need to stop this NOW. We need to complain to the Governor’s of every state . We need to call for the currant President to take control of this NOW. If we dont will pay the price with everything we have had to work hard for. They are committing crimes against the American Constitution. The Black Panthers are a Anti America Terrorist group Unless Obama withdraws from any votes where they have been doing this . He is part of this and is NOT FIT TO BE THE LEADER OF THIS COUNTRY. It is to be a fair and open vote. NOTE A STORMTROOPER FORCED ELECTION.

  2. ice gal says:

    A day for freedom…
    A day for America.
    The real work with a real leader begins in January.
    Let peace rain on our planet

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