Tuesday, November 4, 2008

At 5:50 this morning.


My wife and I stood in a line of about 100, twenty-yards away from another line of about 100. By 6AM the lines were down the block and around the corner. Upper East-siders elbowing each other, squeezing past folded-up lunch tables in a public school gymnasium to get into the half-functioning voting machines that date, I guess, from Eisenhower's first term.

A neighbor was first to vote--he arrived at 4:45 and having voted hustled off to a Starbucks to grab his free coffee. Later to Ben & Jerry's for a free cone. And then to Pinky Nails for a free Brazilian.

The helicopters chopped overhead, who knows why? Traffic watch, intimidation, surveillance, news crews?

Absent the giant visage of Comrade Stalin looming above, it all reminded me of my young boyhood in Moskva. The out-dated machinery. The mechanism of propaganda. The crumbling infrastructure. The naive hope that we, the people, could effect change through the ballot. My father, Stanisliv Irvinovich, would grip my hand and impart his cryptic wisdom as we shuffled slowly ahead in the snaking line. "My son," he intoned, "a man's vote is like a donkey in the breeze. Up close you can ride it. But from a distance, it smells."

2 comments:

Tore Claesson said...

the turn out in my town was such that people who usually get on earlier trains now crowded the 9.04.
It's going to be an interesting day. Few elections around the world are as important as this one might be. America will be viewed very differently depending on who wins. Whether America will be a different nation on the world scene, in reality, is another question. Perception often makes reality however.

bob hoffman said...

I was the first to vote in my district this morning. As such, I had a responsibility I didn't know existed. They lead me around the polling place and I had to verify that each machine was set at zero and that every ballot box was empty.

You can now rest assured that as of 7 am PST there was no voter fraud in the Rockridge district of Oakland, CA.