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This is What Democracy Looks Like
Election Day Madman
Tuesday, November 7, 2006
My Early Morning Voting Story
I voted early today in New Jersey at a little before 8:00AM. It was a breeze. Empty voting booths, personable precinct officials; I even got a parking space right in front. It took me no more than ten minutes to park, walk up the twelve, relatively steep concrete steps to the Samsel Upper Elementary School's side entrance, kibitz with the nice ladies at the Precinct 21 table, cast my vote and leave. I even waved to the Sayreville, NJ policeman who was sitting at the small student desk just outside the gymnasium where I cast my vote. Two other precincts, the 13th and the 14th also vote in the Samsel School.
I mentioned the steps because they aren't easy to get up and down. The parking lot is a lot lower than the school itself, so the steps had to be made pretty steep. The handicap entrance is shaped like a long, winding entrance. In this matter they the builders were able to keep the incline manageable for those who might walk with a walker, cane or have to access the polling place in a wheelchair.
As I walked out of the Samsel School, I noticed someone walking up the handicap ramp. She was an elderly woman, probably no younger than her late seventies. She walked with a quad-cane (the kind with four points touching the ground) made of aluminum. Her steps appeared small and laborious and it appeared she was struggling to get up the cement walkway. At the time I saw her, she was about two-thirds of the way to the entrance. I was contemplating asking her if she needed help, but there really wasn't any room for me to assist her. I think she just might have hit me with the cane had I offered anyway.
As I watched her come up the walkway, I couldn't help but notice that the path looked a lot like the waiting lines for rides at any of the Six Flag Amusement Parks, Seaworld, Disney or Universal Studios.
This woman, with all of her physical ailments, drove to the polling place, made a hard uphill walk from the parking lot to the long, cement handicap walkway, and by herself was determined to cast her vote as she probably has so many times before. It was inspiring.
It was then that I knew two things: The first was that, even in the most crucial elections, no more than a little over 50 percent of the people who can vote do. The second was that, if this woman could get out to vote why couldn't you (that's a collective "you" for all of those who don't vote).
Then my mind went back to the walkway. How many people would wait an hour or two in line at Disneyworld to get on the Tilt-A-Whirl but wouldn't give five minutes of their time before going to work to cast their vote?
Then I heard this bit of news: The voter turnout is going to be a record for a mid-term vote. More than twice as many voters are casting their votes than did in the 2002 mid-term.
As I write this, I am hopeful. As you read this, I hope that my "hope" has been realized.
So at about 8:00PM Eastern Time, I an sending out this Note from a Madman.
There's enough for all of us to do and see, so this will be all for Madman tonight.
Hoping for a great night of change, your friend,
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