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My husband, grandson and I voted Monday evening at the library in our little town of about 750 people in western North Carolina. Grandson got to register and vote at the same time, turned 18 in May. He registered Independent - probably so he could be the 'rebel' in our household - but his heart's in the right place.

One of the reasons we voted Monday instead of Tuesday (when the library's One-Stop will be open until 9 instead of 5) is because of what happened to Obama supporters in Fayetteville on Sunday. Not only were McCain/Palin supporters stationed to shout epithets and harass the long voting lines after Obama's speech, but about 30 of the attendees of that rally got their tires slashed. Very ugly.

When I had finished marking my ballot, I fed it into the second of two machines there to take ballots. I don't know why there were two, perhaps they switch them off day to day. It's the first time I early voted at the library instead of journeying to the County Seat to vote at the courthouse. There are just two precincts at this end of the county, both actual polling places are in churches. I don't like to vote in the First Baptist Church.

I noted the number on the machine (like a glorified copier) when I fed my ballot in, so I'd see it counted. It was. Number 445, in fact. This particular machine had received 444 votes since early voting opened last Thursday, and it's not open on Sunday. That number reflects what must be extremely close to all the duly registered voters in both precincts of our town! Even if we're up to maybe 900-1,000 people by now, there probably aren't more than 500 of 'em old enough to vote.

My husband made small talk with the poll ladies (who were all very nice and helpful) while we waited for grandson to finish registering and vote.  They said turnout had been surprising, and that new young voters had been registering in droves even though there's only one high school and community college in our county, both in the seat. They'd apparently heard nothing about the Fayetteville rally on Sunday or the ugly antics of McCain supporters. We were the only voters there so close to closing, so it's not like the conversation would have upset any other voters.

Now, I remember when Jesse Helms ran this state with an iron-fisted "machine." Back when our poll was in the train station I'd see ambulances lined up to wheel elderly people in from nursing homes to vote, many of whom didn't look able to punch those cards and couldn't see well enough to know which to punch. They got a lot of help, of course, but to me it was quite the spectacle. Back in those days (early '90s) you had to 'prove' you were out of state (or would be) on election day to vote absentee, otherwise you had to physically show up no matter how disabled you were.

After the 2000 election fiasco (when about a third of voters got 'lost' and a lot of dead people were on the rolls), they went to no-excuse absentee. Then after the 2004 fiasco when Diebold's glorified Etch-a-Sketches threw state races into turmoil, they came up with early One-Stop voting and paper ballots. This year I expect there may be no more than a dozen voters who put it off until November 4th.

So... I am now wondering what it will be like when "election day" comes and nobody shows up... because they've already voted.

The parties may have to play catch-up with the voters this time. It's entirely possible that this state will have been firmly decided well before November 4th. Wouldn't that be a gas?

Originally posted to Joy Busey on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 09:09 PM PDT.

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