Friday, November 14, 2008

You gotta fight. For your right. To Democratic Party.

So by now you may have heard Obama won. ( The large screen here in Times Square may have given it away.) I'm happy to say I voted for him. But not without a bit of a fight.

I went to my polling center and waited in line for about two hours. (I was psyched the lines were that long.) When I got to the head of the line, they told me my name wasn't in "the book," so I couldn't vote. I could vote absentee if I wanted, but that was it.

I had with me my letter from the Board of Elections saying I was indeed registered and was at the correct polling station. That didn't seem to matter. If I wasn't in "the book," I wasn't voting they said.This all powerful book seemed to take precedence over an official letter from the Board of Elections. How do we know a page of this book didn't get ripped out, on purpose or by accident. Maybe someone spilled their mocha latte all over the page with my name. Who knows.

After a prolonged and heated conversation, where they admitted it wasn't fair my name wasn't on the polling station's voter's list, I agreed to just fill out the absentee ballot. As I sat in the corner filling out the paper, something inside me cringed. After enduring the last eight political years, I wanted to PULL A LEVER damn it. Even though I knew New York would go to Obama, I wanted to PULL A LEVER. I wanted to take some sort of ACTION, no matter how small. I wanted my voice heard that day, not by mail. I ripped up the ballot mailer and marched back to the voting line. I'll admit it, I did a bit of grandstanding. I eloquently, and loudly, explained I have a RIGHT to vote on the MACHINE. Finally, they called the head of the Board of Elections for my district.

I got on the phone with him, he looked up my name, then asked "Did they check the supplemental voter's list?" Turns out the polling station guys didn't even know there was such a thing. Sure enough, my name, along with hundreds of others, was in that book. I got to pull my lever after all. But, how many people were turned away before I alerted them to the list? If that was happening in the Lower East Side of NYC, what kind of voter turn-aways were taking place across the country? What kind of people, who may have been less aggressive than I, were handed absentee ballot slips. And how many of those even filled them out and mailed them? It seems we should have a better system now that we're in the 21st century.

The rest of my voting day was filled not only with anticipation, but also with art. I had gone to an exhibit a few hours before Obama was elected. Half the room was red, the other blue. Two giant flat screen TVs stood in the middle, with CNN playing to the blue side and FOX to the red. I liked how both sides were forced to face each other for them to watch their broadcast. (Although I think my friend Seth, who I went with, was the only McCain supporter there.)

The walls around the gallery were lined with portraits off all the presidents of the United States. Directly to the right of George W. Bush's portrait was one of Obama. It was on the floor, leaning against the wall, with a hook above it. Waiting. There was no portrait of McCain ready to go.

Another nice touch was a soda machine turned voting machine. It was blue for Pepsi, red for Coke. All were free, all you had to do was vote.

I watched the results at Syrup, a design house here in NYC that had a huge party. I cried when it was announced Obama won. There were lots of hugs around the room. The streets were filled with strangers embracing each other, horns honking, and shouts of "yes we can." Even if Obama does nothing, he's already done more good than Bush has done in his whole life.