First, several quick Tweets I wrote while standing in the queue:
Standing in a moderately long line at Quail Hollow precinct (I’ve seen longer). 400 voters so far. Man who just left said it took an hour…
Close to 500 voters have shown up so far at Quail Hollow at noon. Veteran poll worker says 700 to 800 is the normal total for all day.
Man behind me tells companions, “This right here might be the most important vote we ever cast.” I agree, but don’t dare ask what HE means.
Not good for Sheheen: My precinct is heavily Republican, my daughter’s is strongly Democratic. Big turnout at mine, a trickle at hers.
A suggestion: If you favor Vincent Sheheen, or merely distrust Nikki Haley, now would be a good time to get your lazy behind out and VOTE.
Of course, on those last couple, I could have been making an incorrect assumption: I’ve heard so many Republicans say they can’t bring themselves to vote for Nikki that maybe, just maybe, enough of them will vote for Vincent. Yeah, that’s a big maybe, and perhaps I’ve just been talking to the brighter sort of Republican, the kind who pay attention and think before they vote. You can’t count on everyone, or even a majority, doing that in an election.
For instance, a friend who usually votes Democratic told me the story of her husband — who ALWAYS votes Republican — a few minutes ago. He has planned all year to vote for Nikki. She asked him this morning before he went to the polls and he said yes, he was still going to vote for. My friend, and her mother, both remonstrated with him about it. Later, he texted his wife to say that he had voted for Vincent. Once he got into the booth, he just couldn’t bring himself to help put Nikki in office.
But now that it’s too late to ask, I find myself really wondering what that man meant when he said, “This right here might be the most important vote we ever cast.” I told my friend in the above anecdote that, and she said she couldn’t imagine a Nikki supporter being that eager to vote. Surely, anyone voting for her, ignoring all her startling negatives, is simply grimly doing what he perceives to be his duty to a party. I told her she was mistaken: Tea Party types think they are part of a great, exciting reform movement. And they seem convinced, despite all the contradictions, that she is part of it, too. They really do, near as I can tell. A Tea Partisan planning to vote for Haley would say something like that.
The same gentleman, discussing the constitutional questions on the ballot with the ladies accompanying him, said it was simple — vote “yes” to all. I restrained myself again. One of the ladies said she wasn’t so sure about that hunting and fishing one, and the man said she probably wouldn’t understand, since she doesn’t hunt and fish. I REALLY held myself back at this point, stopping myself from delivering a soliloquy on how we shouldn’t clutter the state constitution with superfluous language, particularly to indulge our personal whims, and how the issue isn’t whether you’re for hunting or fishing, but whether you think it belongs in the constitution… Such a lecture from me at that time would have been most unseemly, since I was about to violate that principle by voting for constitutional language indulging one of my own political attitudes, which I would normally be dead set against doing. So it’s doubly good that I said nothing.
But the greatest test of my discretion came when I finally got to the booth itself. (Or whatever you call those things, more like a TV table with blinders. A “half-booth,” perhaps.)
It was awkward to step up to the booth at all, because the lady at the one next to me was for some reason standing backed up away and toward me rather than squaring up to her own booth. I could hardly get to mine without brushing against her back. The reason for this became apparent as a poll worker came up to help her with some sort of trouble she was having.
From that point on, I had to struggle to concentrate on my own voting because of the intense scene being played out right at my elbow. At first, I didn’t notice what was said, until the lady bristled, “I don’t appreciate you speaking to me that way! You have no business doing that…”
YOU try not listening to something after hearing that, especially coming from someone you’re practically touching. I mean, I’m a gentleman and all that, but…
BEING a gentleman, I scrupulously didn’t look that way, but I recognized the voice of the poll worker as that of a woman I’ve known for decades. She was using a perfectly professional, calm tone, but she made the mistake of urging the voter to be calm, which really set her off. She was apparently embarrassed at needing help, and extremely sensitive as a result.
At least once more, she demanded that the worker stop “speaking to me that way.” But eventually, she did calm down somewhat, and said that she only cared about voting for two people, and they were both Republicans, so it was probably fine. The worker insisted that it was NOT fine for her to vote a straight Republican ticket if she had not intended to. (God Bless that poll worker! If only it were illegal to surrender your thinking to a party! If only it were not the first choice offered!) They went back and forth on this, with the embarrassed voter wanting it to be over with, and the worker insisting that it was important that her preferences, and only her preferences, be accurately tallied, and that they could fix this…
I don’t know how it came out. But it was hard not to intervene and say “Listen to the poll worker, lady!” But a gentleman doesn’t intervene in, or take any notice at all of, an unseemly disagreement between ladies. Unless it comes of course to fisticuffs, in which case he turns to the other gentlemen present and places wagers…
Imagine a smiley face at the end there…