It's one of those election day traditions. Every four years, a bunch of media remote trucks show up at Dixville Notch, New Hampshire to report the earliest election results in the nation. The polls open at midnight and everyone in town casts their votes right away. The results? Barack Obama by a nearly three to one margin. Every single Dixville Notchian -- or whatever the hell you call them -- has voted and the results of this 100% turnout is McCain 6, Obama 15. It's the first time in forty years that the town has chosen a Democrat. Only a gazillion more votes to go.
Dixville Notch always has 100% turnout -- I think if you don't show, the Children of the Corn come by your house and stone you. The media gods must be appeased. Nationwide, many have already cast their ballots in early voting. Voice of America reports that "more than 28 million people in 34 of the 50 states" have already voted. The turnout for election day is expected to be even bigger.
"We have statistics that we can point to right now that suggest that 28.8 million people have so far voted in this election," Michael McDonald, an elections expert at George Mason University in Virginia told VOA. "We are expecting 40 million people when all the numbers are compiled. And that will be about 30 percent of the 136 million people that we are expecting to vote." If that 136 million figure is correct, that would represent a turnout of 64% of all eligible voters.
"We may quite literally see turnout of a magnitude that we have not seen in a century of American politics," he said.
All that early voting has gone heavily for Obama -- 60% -- which helps explain why Team McCain didn't vigorously break out a new attack on Obama over the weekend. For as much as a third of voters, it would've come too late to make a difference. Instead, both campaigns have spent the last few days oiling the gears of the get out the vote machines.
While some of the early voting had unreasonably long lines, McDonald says this was the nature of the early voting mechanism in most municipalities. "What's happening here is that local election officials only have a limited number of polling places available for early voting in person," he said. "And those polling places seem to be completely overwhelmed. As we look from state to state where they do have these polling places, in many places they have had to extend hours. They have had to open up additional polling places to accommodate the demand for early voting."
Here in Madison, Wisconsin, for example, long lines for early voting had been reported. But this was because early ballots had to be cast at the city clerk's office. One polling place for an entire city means long lines. If there have been reports of hours long lines in your area, don't expect them to be nearly as long today.
I guess what I'm saying is don't let a long wait scare you off. Ask yourself this question; how long would you have waited in line in 2000 if you knew you could avoid what happened over the last eight years? If you're really worried, bring a headset, a book, and a lunch. If you're lucky, you'll have time to eat the lunch on the way home.
If you're in line when the polls close, you get to vote. Don't let them send you away. If you need another incentive to stick it out and vote, remember, George W. Bush is voting today and for once you get a chance to veto him. Cast a ballot to cancel out the vote of your least favorite rightwinger; Cheney, Bush, Bill Kristol, Limbaugh, Hannity, O'Reilly, etc. Sponsor a nut and cancel out their vote.
If you have any problems voting, call 1-866-OUR-VOTE. Report it, get advice from volunteer election lawyers, and protect your right to vote. Anyone who would deny you that right, anyone who stands in the way of democracy, is not a friend of this nation and our principles. Don't let them get away with it. Write that number down and take it with you -- 1-866-OUR-VOTE.
I'm going to do what I always do on election day, take a nice autumn walk to the polls at the nearby high school. It's an unbelievable beautiful day here -- an indian summer day very late in the season. I'll vote, go home, and watch the returns all damned night -- I don't think the presidential race will remain undecided that long, but I want to see how Prop. 8 turns out in California.
It's all over now. The endless polls, the stupid, distracting non-issues, and the crappy media obsession with those stupid, distracting non-issues. With any luck, we'll soon stop hearing about made-up demographics like "hockey moms" and "Joe Six-Pack." It'll go on for a while, as the pundits either try to explain why they were wrong or capitalize on the fact that they were right. But there will be two speeches tonight; one a concession and the other a victory speech. We decide which is which.
But only if we go vote. I'm an atheist, so whenever I'm asked for my religion, I say "none." But if someone really pinned me down and required me to state some sort of religious belief, I'd have to say "democracy."
You're going to remember this day for the rest of your life and you're going to remember what you did today. If you haven't voted already, you can take your place in history or you can polish that chair your sitting in with your ass. There are no other chances, there are no more days. You're choice today isn't just between the candidates, school funding, amendments to state constitutions. Your choice today is between the most basic of all democratic actions and undemocratic inaction.
Which do you want to remember doing today?