I live in a little town in upstate NY, and yesterday was our Primary Day. My husband and I went down to vote just before dinner, which is often a slack time with no lines.
Our pollworkers are a cadre of ladies who look forward to the election day gig. They have managed to transition from the old (last State in the Nation to use them!) mechanical machines to the newer optical scanner devices. More importantly they are shepherding their friends and neighbors through the transition, as well. We vote in various public places: school gyms, church basements, ambulance garages, Grange Halls, Magistrate Court rooms, etc. It's always a very folksy atmosphere with the workers' sewing projects, homemade cookies and penny candy bowls crowding the Official Voting Registrars and party voting lists on the card tables.
Hyper-partisanship is nowhere in evidence. Yesterday I noted that one candidate's signs seemed improperly close to the polling station. So the workers came out and we agreed that the signs were within the 100 foot black-out zone. I went over and set the signs down on the ground. Problem solved.
As it happened, we were the only voters and afterward we chatted about the weather (this is a rural town so that's a BIG deal here) and miscellaneous town happenings with the poll workers. The Dem registrar asked me if I was voting for Obama in November, and I said, "Yes." My husband, having just voted in the Republican Primary (we're a mixed marriage), allowed that he was also going to vote for Obama. And then to my complete surprise, so did one of the Republican election workers! And the other Republican poll worker said she was unsure but considering doing so, as well.
This town is solidly Republican; little gets done that isn't directed from the local R-Party committee. Indeed it's almost redundant to hold the town meetings afterward since most of the decisions are made in camera at the Committee Meeting. But when the paid Republican Poll workers are voting for the other Party's Presidential candidate something unusual is afoot.
I was a little disconcerted that we were talking so openly in the polling station, though we were the only ones there, so I didn't press the issue. I wasn't abashed at discussing the topic in public since in small towns everybody knows your business, anyway. I was just worried that someone would come in and interpret it as politicking within a polling place. Afterward I thought I ought to have pushed the Republican waverer a bit by bringing the conversation around to Rmoney/Ryan Social Security plans. There's still time, I think, for another shot at it privately. I am revisiting my assumptions about some of my neighbors who I had thought to be totally Foxed and un-persuadable.
It's hard to watch the daily misrepresentations, and deliberate obfuscations that swirl about the Republican machine. And we must not shirk the fierce GOTV battle. But while it may seem like an endless slog, I think we may be surprised (pleasantly) at the outcome in November. As hard as the right-wing partisans are working to upend the process and confuse people, there is still a robust common-sense in the electorate, I believe.
Of course, I'm NY and Obama probably has all the NY electoral votes already sewed up, so it really doesn't matter. But still, it would enliven my Election Day to believe that I had captured the votes of Republican poll workers for Obama. It's a previously untapped voting block, don't you think? I'm going to give it a shot. What a hoot!