At around 10:30 this morning, I pulled up to Precinct 1224's polling place, Fire Station No. 17, mindful of the two Obama peeps nearby. I started to walk into the fire station, when I heard a young girl yelling to man getting into his truck: “Are you coming back to caucus?!” He seemed a little startled -- sheepish too. “Yeah," he said, “if I can get off work.” He headed over to talk to the girl. I slowed down.
I walked by the girl, then asked her, “Are you explaining the caucusing process for this evening?” She said, “Well, I don’t know.” Then she asked me, “Are you an Obama supporter?” Um, wow? Based on the Illinois senator's sort of “everybody unite” campaign, this surprised me. I told her that I’m not tellin', since I’m in the media and all, but let’s assume I’m on the fence so I can hear what she has to say. The other campaign volunteer wasn’t such a stickler. He said, well, since I’m voting and that’s important, of course they’d be happy to explain what the process is. So they do. We chitchatted a bit about voter turn-out, and only then did the girl cut loose.
She went full-force Obama while her partner snared people as they were walking in, encouraging them to return this evening. She’s brought out the big guns: If I’m undecided, well, did I know that John McCain and Hillary Clinton just don’t have the upstanding legislative record? And that Obama has a large Jewish following and a big telephone campaign? And did I know that his campaign raised a lot of money and that’s a good sign for his would-be presidency? And, like, she’s never been so inspired to participate in politics and she’s even researched him at the Library of Congress! The other guy clearly thought she should can it and let me get on with my vote, lest she dissuade me from what might have already been a vote for their man.
I finally got loose. Turned out, there was no rush, as there was no wait. No line. Nothing but empty voting booths.
So I voted -- a surprisingly emotional experience this time around. I fed the machine and got my sticker: “I voted. I made freedom count.” Then I left and there they were again. The nice guy reminded me to return for the caucus tonight. The aggressive girl said, “So who’d you go with?! You gotta share!” I told her, “No, I don’t.” And with that, the soft-spoken man actually high-fived me.
I got in my car, just as the began accosting some other person. It made me consider how someone could have actually been dissuaded from voting because of the aggressive campaigning, why there are yardage restrictions for signs and whatnot and why it might be advisable to promote the caucus but not the candidate. So, yeah, I'll be back tonight. I hope that girl won't. --Merritt Martin
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