Today I voted in-person absentee (early voting) in Virginia. What I saw at the polls was inspiring. The line to vote was over an hour and a half long, with at least 1,000 people in line with me.
Prior to today, I did not fully understand how much the electorate desired change. People were so excited to vote that they came a week before the election to wait in line and vote. They did not complain. They did not leave. They were not snarky. They were excited. While many cynics and pundits, myself included, have made fun of the idea of change, the people in line believed in it. They believed the results of this election would directly improve their lives.
They brought their kids. They brought their parents. They brought their blackberries. People chatted, twittered, facebooked, and took pictures in line. The excitement in the room was clear. Despite a long day at work, people wanted to be there. They wanted to make a difference. They wanted their voice to be heard.
In a time where life is hard, you are seeing the ideals Americans believe in come out full force. People are believing in the process, the American way. They are doing the American thing and exercising their constitutional responsibility to elect a government that reflects the will of the people, their will. Americans are not protesting, we are not rioting– we are voting.
From now until Tuesday we are likely to see a huge increase in early voting. As seen today, people are not voting early to reduce the wait. Although in some precincts, such as Fairfax County, VA, there were no lines, in Arlington County, VA the line wove through the entire county courthouse. Similarly, people were not voting absentee for the convenience. The early voting location was farther away than most of the polling locations on Election Day. Finally, few people are voting early because they won’t be in town next Tuesday. Although Virginia technically requires a voter to be absent from the district on Election Day to vote absentee, the enforcement of those requirements are lax at best. Most people I spoke to in line will be home during voting hours.
This begs the question, why did they wait in line, kids in tow, for an hour and a half? The overwhelming consensus is that people are excited. They wanted to vote. They wanted to believe that life could get better. In essence, they want change.