Yes we did. This morning I woke up feeling like I moved into a new country and yet I did not change my zip code. I have regained my confidence in the U.S. and my fellow countrymen and women. I feared the the color of a man's skin might prevent a beautiful person lead our country back to greatness but the voters proved me wrong. And I am glad.
Yesterday morning, I awoke at 5:00 a.m. to prepare to be at my polling location to work as an Attorney Poll Watcher for Barack Obama's campaign. Typically, rising that early would put me in fits of grump and grumbling. Instead, I pulled myself from my bed knowing important work needed to be done. After showering and eating my steal cut oats, I left my house in the dark and began my few errands before arriving at the polling station at 6:30 a.m. Upon arriving, I noted all of the election officials either setting up or talking about the day to come. I met with my fellow poll watcher and we promptly began our duties making sure the Judge of Elections set up the voting machines appropriately and we verified everything was in working order. The Poll Observer, a NY attorney who came to my city to ensure that every who could vote did vote, arrived shortly thereafter. Our team was ready.
At 7:00 a.m., the doors opened for a line of anxious voters. One by one, they patiently moved toward the table, signed their names, and stood before the voting machines. The Judge of Elections made sure that after everyone voted that he or she received a sticker proclaiming that the person voted. I do not believe I have seen adults more exciting about receiving a sticker, but of course it was more. These voters knew they were making history.
The day did not produce the difficulties predicted. Some voters went to the wrong polling station and the Judge of Elections did a fantastic job ensuring that everyone found their correct place. As Poll Watchers, we addressed only a few concerns but focused on making sure that those at this polling district and those sent to others voted. It did not matter if the individual was a republican, democrat, independent or libertarian. We wanted every vote to count because honestly, true representation for all would validate the election, not challenges and hijinxs.
One fantastic aspect of this experience was seeing the number of new voters both young and old. Some felt so excited to vote that they kept asking me if they did have the right identification and if they really could vote. They wanted to take pictures after voting and share their experience with their young children. Most everyone left with smiles on their faces. I felt proud to share in this moment with them.
During a lull in the day, I left my location to vote at my polling place. As usual, I passed the small bake sale as I entered the building and the election workers, all older women, greeted me. We spoke about the events of the day as relayed by The Prof: a voting machine broke down in the morning. They remembered him and of course, said nice things about him. When they found out I was a Poll Watcher, they thanked me for participating in this important process. As I walked toward the voting machine, I felt as if I should pinch myself. Today finally arrived and I would be making one of the most significant votes of my life. I stood before the voting machine and carefully made my selections and then reviewed my screen. There was no way I would make a mistake. And then I did it: I pressed the button that would record my vote. The relief and pride I felt was unmistakable.
I returned to my poll watching location and did what I spent the majority of the day doing: making sure everyone voted and thanking each person for voting. Finally, eight o'clock arrived and the polls closed. The Judge of Elections began doing his work recording the votes and printing out the sheets. I waited anxiously, ready to record the tabulations on my sheets to be relayed to the campaign. After waiting for what felt like an eternity, the Judge handed the sheet over to us. Obama received 97% of the votes at this location. We finished up our last minute duties and then at 8:30, our long day at the polls came to a close.
As I drove to my friends' home to watch the election results, I felt an amazing rush but simultaneously, a bit of nervousness. I could not be sure that 2000 and 2004 would not be repeated but as the results rolled in, I knew that we would be fine. And when I looked at my iPhone and saw that MSNBC declared Obama the next president, I was speechless. We did it. Yes we did.
I drove home before The Prof because every part of me ached from the long day and I needed to spend a little time alone processing this amazing moment. I passed a group of individuals dancing and celebrating in the street. I rolled down my window and joined in the whooping and hollering. In my thirty-four years, I do not think I have ever experienced such joy in electing a president. This is a joy that seems to be shared by so many. And this joy continued as I listened o Obama give his beautiful speech which left me wanting to give and give some more. And when I woke up this morning I smiled knowing our baby would be born during Obama's Presidency.
Today truly is a beautiful day.