Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Election Day 2008 - From the Polls in Indianapolis
"I want to vote! I want to vote!" The middle-aged African-American man had presented his Veterans Administration ID card in order to cast his ballot. Unfortunately, this federal ID did not include an expiration date; nor did it indicate an indefinite expiration date. Despite the fact that the voter was clearly the individual pictured on the photo ID, he would not be able to cast a regular ballot. Long minutes were spent by the poll workers and legal observers calling up to verify the fine points of the Indiana Voter ID law, and confirming that the voter would have to cast a provisional ballot.
The voter was understandably very frustrated - he indicated that he had used the same identification to vote in the last five years and that he had no other picture ID. After a long period during which there was some danger that the police might be called to intervene, the voter was sufficiently calmed down that he was able to cast his provisional ballot.
"I want to vote! I want to vote!" His cries and shouts were emblematic of the sentiment throughout the United States yesterday.
I spent Election Day as a legal observer for the Democratic Party at a polling station in Indianapolis. From the long line that greeted the poll workers at 5:30 (the polls opened at 6:00) through the ebbs and flows of citizens coming in to cast their ballots - so many for the first time, the historic nature of this election was clear. Finally, finally, after a so-long election campaign, people all over the country were participating in the often-messy and imperfect democratic process. The VA identification cards were only one glitch, other bumps and barriers to the participation of individual voters were resolved in a mostly bipartisan spirit of service to the democratic process.
I am inspired by the voters that I encountered and served yesterday and remain inspired by the overwhelming message that was delivered by voters throughout the country.