Imagine that we have just taken a trip in a time machine, all the way back to September 25, 2008. Then this story is precise; see, I actually voted yesterday (but that makes a crappy diary title). So we are way back in the past now, and I am telling you about my experience voting for the Obama/Biden ticket on Iowa's first day of Early Voting (EV).
For some background, I was building the extension of my deck during the DNC in Denver, and the TV is in the screen porch, so I had PBS on, showing the convention. As Hillary Clinton stepped up to the microphone, I suddenly found myself unable to continue working; I had to stop to watch what was about to happen. My 6- and 2-year-olds were fighting, and I had to tell them to stop and watch what waas about to happen, because something for the history books was about to go down. Since they don't even know yet what history books are, they were unimpressed; but I digress...
Suffice to say, on that day I was unexpectedly overcome by the emotions resulting from seeing an African-American nominated for President on a major party ticket. I would not be caught off guard for these same emotions upon stepping into the voting booth, would I? For answers to this and other intriguing questions, jump with me now...
Iowa is a great state for voting. Our EV starts 40 days out, and requests for Absentee Ballots (AB's) can arrive considerably earlier than the official 40-day start window, so a lot of AB's get sent out on the first day. Regular voter registration continues until ten days out from Election Day (October 25 in 2008). Plus, the state starts new Same-Day Voter Registration on Election Day this cycle, thanks to efforts by our Democratic State Legislature, elected in 2006.
In addition to AB's, satellite voting locations are also set up throughout the state; basically it is one-stop AB completion, from request to delivery to completion to submission. The county auditor in Johnson County, Tom Slockett, is a complete professional, and the Auditor's office is well-oiled, both figuratively and literally (JK). EV opens with the Auditor's office on the first day of AB distribution, September 25 (today, since we took a spin in the Past-o-matic 2008).
I walked up to the counter at the Auditor's window, asked to vote, and filled out the required paperwork to receive an AB. Then it was stepping in to the booth (really a privacy cube).
I looked over the ballot, considered simply voting straight Democrat, but then, when looking over the names for each race, it struck me that I had to fill in that bubble for Barack Obama of Illinois and Joseph Biden of Delaware. I mean, it's not every day that any of us can just walk in to a voting booth and vote for a minority candidate on a major party ticket in a general election; it's like having a Hawkeye in the running for the Heisman. No, that's happened before; I guess in this voting thing, it's unlike any other historical event ever.
So I bubbled in Obama/Biden, Tom Harkin, Dave Loebsack, Tom Slockett (our fine auditor), State Rep Vicki Lensing, county supervisors Pat Harney, Terrence Neuzil, and Rod Sullivan, Recorder Kim Painter, and any other Dems I happened to forget (time machines mess with memory). I voted on all the judges (on, not for, necessarily), and for taking "idiot" out of the state Constitution, and for selling $20 million in bonds for preserving our county's natural resources.
But not once did the emotions come.
Not, that is, until I was walking back to work, five minutes later, thinking about what I had just done.
I just got a little choked up; I didn't cry or anything like that, I just got one of those surges of emotion that comes with thinking about what's really at stake. Because, after all, it's not that I voted for a black man, it's that I voted for the best Presidential candidate in forty years. It's not so much that the story is like that of Jackie Robinson or Ernie Davis; it's that the story is like that of Abraham Lincoln or FDR.
So, I voted. I voted for Barack Obama for President of the United States of America. It was a great feeling; it was a generational experience.
But I can't tell you what it was like.
You have to go experience it for yourself.
Well, what are you waiting for?