You may want to pack a hankie before voting

2012 Election UPDATE: I need more hankies!!!!!! (in a good way)

I usually get a little choked up when I vote because there is nothing better than living in a country where citizens can choose their leaders. But I don’t think I’ve ever sobbed afterward until today, after I voted in my hometown of Durham, NC. We’re in a blue county in a red state, which, because of Obama, may this year become a blue state for the first time since 1976. So the nation’s eyes are upon us.

The ballot for the 2008 US presidential elections

The ballot for the 2008 US presidential elections

But politics aside (as much as possible), here’s what I witnessed. As I arrived at the crowded voting location (we have several and they’ve been crowded since early voting started here last week) I was shown to a parking spot by one of the many election volunteers. About half the volunteers were black, which also reflects our diverse population here in Durham (45% black, 45% white, 10 percent Latino).

As I walked in to vote, there was a big round of applause for a 20-something Hispanic-looking woman. While she turned in her completed ballot, a volunteer yelled: “First-time voter! First-time voter!” That was enough to get me choked up.

One of seven voting stations in Durham that allowed early voting

One of seven voting stations in Durham, NC that was open for early voting

But to see all the African Americans volunteering and voting, I kept thinking, what must it be like to see a black presidential candidate on the ballot? And to finally feel you’re a part of the process? Then I remembered, oh, yeah, I’m a woman and haven’t seen a female presidential candidate in the final vote. I do know what’s it like. But not really. I’m a white, middle-class woman, and it ain’t the same. When I went to school in NC in the ’60s and ‘70s, schools were still segregated, and lord knows what else was that I didn’t notice. So though I’m still waiting for a female president, at least I’ve lived to see the day where a black man can run for and perhaps even win a US presidential race. How cool is that?

The "I voted early" sticker

The “I voted early” sticker

After I cast my ballot and collected my “I voted early” stickers, I walked out just behind another “First-time voter!” “First-time voter!” this time an older black man. That was enough to keep me in my car for a few extra minutes, until I could see to drive.

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5 Responses to “You may want to pack a hankie before voting”

  1. alice Says:

    Now if only Obama wins our tears can really flow with pride.

  2. boldlygosolo Says:

    Hey, I just got chills down my spine reading your post. No tears, (maybe you had to be there?) but chills indeed.
    That “first-time voter” thing is really something. And yes, a black man on the ballot for president of the United States. Though we have a ways to go, we sure have come far.

  3. Karen Says:

    Hey Diane, I know just how you feel. Voting has always made me think of the women who fought and suffered to get me the vote…and I send them a silent “Thank you.” when I put my ballot into the box. Was in Miami this week where there was a huge Obama rally. This is a year with much emotion – positive and negative. Let’s hope that the best within us as a country wins out.

  4. Voting in Durham : Fixed Gear News Says:

    […] accounts of early voting: Diane Daniel Barry […]

  5. Voting in Durham | Says:

    […] accounts of early voting: Diane Daniel Barry […]

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