Tuesday, November 04, 2008

So Goes the 56th Presidential Election

Another bit of Indian summer today -- even fairly warm at about 9:30 this morning when I walked to the polls. My polling station would not have made anyone's newscast, because there were no visually interesting long lines snaking out the door or obviously haywire voting equipment.

There were a fair number of people there, but not so many that I had to wait very long to vote, about five minutes. Lilly decided at the last minute not to come with me, staying at home waiting for some of her friends to show up. My next-door neighbor was there with her son, who's a year behind Lilly. He played a hand-held video game while his mother voted.

Here in Cook County, we can pick either a touch-screen machine or a paper ballot, which is then read by machine. This time I chose the touch-screen machine, that boogeyman of people worried about voting irregularities, as if you can't tamper with paper ballots. Actually I like the punch-card system, but that seems to be gone. Something satisfying about jamming that stylus into the card repeatedly, then flipping to the next page. The touch-screen machine was reasonably easy to use, and created a paper record of my vote at the end, so I'm not going to lose any sleep over the fear that my votes got lost.

I'm just old enough to remember voting booths. They involved closing the curtain with a master lever, flipping switches, then moving the master lever again to open the voting booth curtain, as well as add the votes to the total. I might remember this wrong, but I'm fairly certain I happened to be in Texas for the primary in early March 1980, and voted that way.

I had a fair amount of work to do today, so didn't pay much attention to the contest until the evening -- before that, it's speculative blather anyway. At about 8 pm, I saw that Ohio and Pennsylvania had gone to Obama, and knew it was game over for McCain. I had a hard time explaining that to Lilly, however, since she has only the vaguest idea of opinion polls or projected winners or that some states aren't in play. Besides, the red states on the electoral maps look so much larger than the blue. Ah, but presidential elections aren't won by square mileage. Maybe in some weird alternate universe they are.

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