[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/11/04/art.pittsburghvoting.jpg caption="Across the state from Lancaster County, a Pittsburgh, PA voting machine."]
AC360° Associate Producer
My mom is the Judge of Elections for District 57 in Lancaster County Pennsylvania. She’s been working at the polls for the last fifteen years and said that she’s never seen voters come out in such record numbers before. Their polling location opened at 7 A.M., and by 2 P.M., over fifty percent of registered voters had already showed up. So far no major problems or delays.
John B. Judis
The New Republic
If Barack Obama wins the presidency, I don't know who he is going to put in his cabinet, but I have some recommendations for how he should go about choosing people. My assumption is that he will face unprecedented challenges (a downturn, a financial crisis, two wars) and opportunities (a large Democratic majority, discredited opposition in Congress and on K Street). At the same time, he can expect this opposition to do whatever it thinks is necessary to block his initiatives. Republicans in Congress and conservative activists in Washington know that if Obama has a successful presidency, he has a chance to establish a lasting Democratic majority that would keep them on the sidelines well into the next decade.
In 2000, when we were discussing vice-presidential choices with Al Gore, my partner Tad Devine conceded that Joe Lieberman would be an immediate hit; but he believed Lieberman would prove a long-term bust. He told Gore: “What you need is Mr. October, not Mr. August.”
Barack Obama got both when he picked Sen. Joe Biden. The Delaware Democrat immediately demonstrated that he was a happy warrior who could take the fight to McCain, stand up for Obama and connect with blue-collar voters and Catholics. Yet by late October, the conventional wisdom strangely had turned, devaluing Biden’s role and his appeal, and reporting that the supposedly gaffe-prone candidate had been hidden away after stating that Obama would be “tested” by a foreign crisis in his first few months in office.
Reporters have focused far more attention on Joe the Plumber than on Joe the Veep, Joe the Validator, Joe the Defender, Joe the Political Partner. McCain, who probably shouldn’t mention V.P. picks outside a confessional, scoffed at Biden last weekend as “the gift that keeps on giving”—despite the fact that Biden has helped deliver constituents and states and, hours from now, will help deliver the Presidency itself to Barack Obama. Standing behind McCain on the stage as he spoke, a sour-looking Cindy McCain didn’t even crack a smile. I suspect she knows the reality—of the race and of the value of the respective running mates.
Dennis and Holly Felmlee
We are serving our country in the Peace Corps in Romania. We received our absentee ballots on Monday, October 29, filled them out, and sent them via express shipping the same day. We paid $140 for the express service.
Here we are with our sealed envelopes in downtown Suceava, Romania. We were told our package would arrive on Monday, Nov 3. We hope so! We have always voted and really want our votes to count this year.
See more from these iReporters and others like them at iReport.com.
I had an interesting voting experience.
First, the back story: my wife and I moved from one part of the Upper West Side in New York to another part of the Upper West Side. Considering we’ve never left the neighborhood, this was a big bold step.
At the time of our relocation, my wife, Jenny, filled out a new voter registration form that noted the address change. I did not. She mocked me and said I would have to walk 10 blocks to vote while she just had to saunter over to the Public School 8 across our street and cast her ballot.
This morning, Jenny grabbed a coat and a cup of coffee and headed over to the school. My daughter and I strolled quietly behind her. Inside the polling center, a volunteer informed Jenny that her name was not on their manifest. Jenny asked the worker to check again. He did. The same result. Maybe you’re still registered at the old address?
CNN Senior Broadcast Producer
Those were the first words that came out of an Asian-American woman in her 50’s who stood three steps in line just ahead of me.
“For the first time in my life I voted!” she exclaimed in broken English.
You could see the look of pride in her face as she walked out from behind the curtain. She had come to the polling station, accompanied by a friend, and was full of nervous energy. She paced in and out of the line, basically jumping.
When it was her turn to sign in, she proudly stated her name, got the slip from the polling clerk and headed to the booth.
Inside the booth, she screamed, “What do I do now?!” The clerk explained, “You push the red lever to the right and vote.”
After several minutes of frustration, and asking for more help, you could hear her say all she wanted to do was vote for President.
She did, and walked out.
The polling station applauded—not because she finally moved in a line that had grown, but because it is for this woman, who left her home country for a new life in this country, that we have such a democracy… something that gets lost in the din of the two-year-long campaign. This woman is a testament to democracy.
caption="83rd BETWEEN 1st AND 2nd, NEW YORK CITY"]
Editor's Note: We knew voters would turn out in full force, but even we were surprised at what we saw. AC360° staff share their voting stories.
AC360° Senior Producer
Precinct 111 on 53rd and 9th told me I was in wrong place after looking at my paperwork, and sent me to another site a block away. When I got to second location, they also told me I was in wrong place and sent me back to where I started to begin with! I guess the guy at the original location misread the number of my district. Thankfully the line was very short and I was in and out in 10 minutes when I was finally at the right place. Had it not been for the original confusion and circling of my block trying to vote, it would've been a totally pleasant and quick experience. After some initial irritation, in the end I guess it was all good. I was happy to vote as it was an inspiring experience, and what the heck some brisk morning exercise isn’t terrible, right?
CNN Senior National Editor
In at 6.50 a.m. Out by 7.50 a.m.
Not bad considering the hours-long waits endured by people in my county who chose to vote early.
In the pre-dawn dark of an Indian summer day, I pulled on jeans, a t-shirt and a sweatshirt and made the short drive to my children’s grade school. Inside Oak Grove Elementary I found a not-too-long line stretching from the cafeteria down a familiar hallway lined with art projects and book reports written on leaves cut from brown construction paper.
A few people read morning newspapers. I turned on my iPod (Dvorzak’s “New World Symphony” felt like a good choice for Election Day) and read a summary of the three state ballot initiatives. I nodded to a neighbor from down the street and recognized the parents of a few of my kids’ friends.
A pair of poll workers – senior citizens, a man and a woman – walked the line, checking a printout of the voter rolls to make sure everyone in line was registered to vote at the school. Beneath my name was that of my 18-year-old daughter, who today cast her first vote. My wife uses her maiden name, so she was elsewhere on the list.
[My wife and daughter voted about 11.45 a.m. and reported only a short line and little waiting time. My daughter, who reads newspapers (real ink-on-paper variety), wishes she had studied more on the local issues. She’s not alone.]
If you were age 75 or older, you could go to the front of the line. Despite his wife’s urging, one silver-haired gent said no, he would wait with everyone else, but he relented when everyone else urged him forward.
Once the hour reached 7 a.m., the line started forward, slowly and amiably. Inside the cafeteria, where I have been entertained by my children’s classmates at lunch, I signed the standard identification form. This was checked against the master list (by computer, not those heavy books of the past). I was given a yellow plastic card and directed to another line. By my calculations I would be the 110th person to vote.
There were 14 voting booths set up in a row. I would vote on a Diebold “accu-vote” machine. The absence of a paper trail for each voter has many states moving away from this type of machine.
Georgia had a relatively long ballot this year. After making by selection for President, I patiently moved on to the U.S. House of Representatives and local judges, sheriff, county executive, school board members and public service commissioners (several of these people running unopposed) and those ballot initiatives. I wavered on one of them, voting no and then changing my mind to vote yes. I confess to relying on friends and members of my congregation for advice on some of the local races.
Reviewing my choices, I realized that I had neglected to vote in the U.S. Senate race. That list was next to the presidential candidates and easy to overlook. I made my selection and touched the screen to send my votes into overall count. The yellow card popped out and in exchange for it I received a sticker with a picture of a peach, a symbol of the state.
Then it was back home for breakfast, a change of clothes and a drive to work, where I would spent the next dozen or so hours dealing with voting issues from across the country. Fortunately, I had none.
AC360° Senior editorial producer
In Southaven, Mississippi, lines were 30-45 minutes long. In 15 years of voting in that area, my dad had never had to wait in line. This was the first time he remembers ever having to wait.
Also, students had the day off, but public school teachers had to report to work anyway. And they were only allowed short times to go vote. With lines even just 30 minutes long, my dad said, many teachers haven't had time to vote and make it back to work on time.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/11/04/art.miamivoting.jpg caption="Miami voters line up at the polls on election day."]
CNN Miami Correspondent
Why did you vote? Many of those I asked answered simply, saying it's a right we have and it shouldn't be wasted.
For others it is far more personal. I ran into a young man named Rick Garcia coming out of Fire Station 33 after he voted. Rick had tears in his eyes. He had voted before but it never meant as much as this time, he said. Or for that matter, to his friends.
"I got a lot of friends who would never normally register to vote and they were just calling me, 'Where do I go? What do I do?'" Here you go, I'll bring you the paperwork, he told them.
The reason for the enthusiasm, Rick's brother Jair DeJesus Garcia. A private in the U.S. Army, Garcia was killed in Afghanistan. Rick's eyes welled up as he told me the story.
"August 1st of this year he passed away, roadside bomb. It's the main reason why I came to vote."
"In his honor?"
"In his honor, yes. He would want everybody as American citizens to do it."
Rick wears a button with his brother's picture on it and a dogtag around his next. His brother was with Easy Company out of Fort Hood, Texas. He volunteered at age 29 and had only been in Afganistan two months when he died.
Rick says many in his family had never voted before. They too are voting today.
Rick says he will never be able to erase the pain of loss. But voting made him feel at ease, at least for awhile.