An Ordinary Vote

I walked about a mile to my polling place at the Carvel Building in Wilmington, Delaware to vote this morning.

When I arrived, I noticed there was a virtual phalanx of what appeared to me to be rather threatening looking people on the steps to the entrance. I think I was frankly a bit paranoid, but they reminded me of Black Panthers.

Smiling as sincerely as I could, I walked past them hoping I looked really, really tough. I thought of putting my hand in my pocket as if I had a "conceal and carry." But then I thought better of it.

But once inside, I found the election officials and helpers were pleasant and courteous, even though the old woman who asked me if I knew how to vote looked as if she could eat me alive.

How nice, I thought. This sure is a sea change of attitude from 2008.

I noticed very few people were voting, unlike 2008, when the lines were wrapped twice around the entire room and almost out the door. It was a cold, cold day, so maybe the hostile weather was keeping some away from the polls. Still, I did wonder why in a uniformly Democrat city, there were so few voters out.

It took the woman who was checking the voter list some time to find my name. She apologized for the delay.
"That's all right," I said. I barely restrained myself from trying to help her, as I saw she was looking at the "Y" folder rather than the "V" folder. She determinedly rifled through six or seven pages; then, started all over again. I waited. At last she found it. "Here is Fay Vawshill to vote," she grandly pronounced, waving me on toward the voting booth. She must have seen the hesitation in my face. "Is that how you pronounce it?" she asked.
"Actually, it's pronounced "Vo-SHELL, with the emphasis on the last syllable," I said. She raised her voice. "OK, here's Fay VO-shill to vote." I thought it best not to correct her. It was clear she was trying hard and loved being part of the whole process.

The gentleman who assisted me politely told me he'd turn on the light in the back of the machine. I was to push the button beside each candidate I wished to vote for. "Do you understand how to do this? He politely inquired. "I think I've got it," I said smilingly, though I had trouble understanding his words because he was missing more than a few front teeth. I was thinking he'd probably had a tough life.

I went behind the curtain and firmly mashed all the Republican buttons I saw, taking an almost childlike delight in seeing the little red lights come on all in a row. There were a lot of seats going uncontested to Democrats, but that is always the way it is in Wilmington. It is a one-party city.

As I was leaving, I said "Goodbye and God bless" to the woman who had offered to assist me in voting. A smile cracked her lined and weathered face, turning her initially ferocious expression into a beatitude. "You're welcome, sister" she replied. We smiled at one another in surprised and mutual recognition of commonality.

As I went back down the stairs toward home, I thought to myself, "How privileged I am to be an American."

I thought of how blessedly ordinary the voting process still was in my country.

No one intimidated me. No one harassed me. No one obstructed me.

There still was honor here.

What a country.