Tuesday, November 04, 2008

"Feel the Power of Your Vote!"

There is a poll worker in my precinct who has been a volunteer for at least as long as I have lived here (eight and a half years). He is an older black man, with a shock of white hair and a ready smile. Mojo likens him to an economics professor for some reason.

When Mojo got to the polls at our local fire station at 7:00 AM, the man was there, greeting everyone and keeping the mood upbeat and jocular during the hour that Mojo had to wait. Twelve and a half hours later, when I went to cast my vote, he was still there, standing outside and greeting people, finishing the last of his cigarette.

"Are you here to feel the power of your vote?" he asked as we approached the door. Mojo and Arabis talked to him while I registered and went in with my ballot to make history.

As I filled out my form, I could hear Mojo talking to a female fire fighter and her asking Arabis if she'd like to see the engines. From there they disappeared down a hallway while I finished up.

"This is the part that you've got to love, girl," the man told me as I took my ballot to him. "You hold on to that and get ready to cast your ballot. Are you ready to feel the power of your vote?"

I felt like I was at a revival or old time rally like you see in black and white movies.

"I am," I told him.

"Hold on to that with both hands and feed it right in here and FEEL THE POWER OF YOUR VOTE!"

Afterward I wandered into the garage portion of the fire station where an EMT/firefighter named Linda was helping Arabis climb behind the wheel of a fire truck. We talked for a while, I mentioned that I had a friend who was a firefighter in Piedmont (Hey, Dave: Linda in West Oakland says "hi" and that you're awesome!). Arabis wanted to climb up the big ladder on the other truck, and Linda said if we wanted to come back one day that she could climb across it as it lay flat (so it looks like we have a day trip planned sometime soon).

Everyone was happy and laughing and filled with hope. I live in a low-income, predominantly African-American neighborhood with a historically disappointing voter turn out. I over heard the poll workers talking, saying there were only about 350 registered in my precinct and they had already seen over 300 people today. This is unprecedented. The fact that Mojo had to wait an hour this morning is unheard of. That even I, less than an hour before the polls closed, entered to a full house and more people still coming in, gave me hope.

That is what I am struck by. A sense of hope that we have not felt for so many years. I am optimistic and tried to instill some of my excitement in Arabis as we sat watching the returns later that evening.

"We're electing a new president. We're making history."

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