I stood in line for nearly 5 hours to vote early for Barack Obama in the swing state of Ohio.
My feet and back ache, and I'm exhausted, but it was so worth it. Volunteers came out in droves to pass out bottled water and snacks, help children to the restrooms, find seating for the elderly--anything to keep people in line. A sense of hope and celebration permeated the air. Strangers chatted easily with one another. No one complained.
As the afternoon grew long, we formed little posses of support with those nearest us in line. My posse was composed of two latinas, four black women, two children, and me. One of the women, Janette, had already voted, but she returned with her elderly mother to wait in line again. We all looked out for Momma, making sure she could sit as much as possible and had someone to lean on at all times.
Univision came to interview us when they realized my new friend Marta spoke fluent Spanish. They asked her if she was worried about voter fraud or disenfranchisement given what happened in Ohio during the last election. She proudly said, "No. There are so many people here that it would be impossible to stifle the vote again." Afterward, I told her "Muy bien hecho!" and gave her a terrorist fist jab, which we are pretty sure ended up on camera.
One gentleman made me cry. I never caught his name. He was seventy years old or older, his dark skin a beautiful contrast to his white hair. He pressed against the rails and the wall to support himself as he stood in line. He dressed in his Sunday best to vote--newly shined shoes, a three-piece suit, and a hat with a feather. When he finally hobbled out of the polling room, he had tears in his eyes.
Today, in line, there was no black America or white America. No real America or fake America. We were simply the happy, smiling, colorful, stubborn-as-hell people of America, united in our common patriotism and our utter conviction that voting is a beautiful privilege worth waiting 5 hours for.