My good friend, Sean, shared his voting story over email. The vision of people sitting in church makes me think of how we hold the voting process in such reverence; the two polling places I visited yesterday had an awed hush about them. Yet people all up and down the line were striking up spontaneous conversation. The civil participation promoted community. Or perhaps we all nervously knew what was at stake?
It really is amazing that so many people with, by definition, such different viewpoints could come together to one place where their often bitterly held views battle it out in the ballot box– a place where they agree to peacefully declare their position and abide by the decision made through the process. stunning, really, that it works at all, much less so quickly.
I waited for 3 hours and 50 minutes in my polling place to finally vote. They ran out of ballots. There was only book from which the poll workers looked up our names and had us sign on the line, and that slowed the process incredibly. I arrived at the polling place shortly after 6pm. I left the polling place at about 10:15pm. The polls close in Nebraska at 8pm. However, everyone that was in line before 8pm was able to vote. There were probably 200-250 people in line behind me, so I’m sure they weren’t finished until well after midnight.
I was sorta pissed off at the situation, of course. I hated wasting so much time. What is this, Kabul? But, at the same time, I was sorta blown away at all of the people waiting patiently in line for 3+ hours. The mix of people was incredible to see: professionals, women with children, workers with dirty hands and work boots, etc. All of them chatting away in the pews of the church, waiting so patiently for the opportunity to vote. I felt a real bond starting to form. Of course, it immediately disintegrated as soon as we walked out the door. But I began to see how a group of people might form incredible bonds in desparate situations, like a hostage taking or natural disaster.
Very interested sociological/psychological stuff going on.