Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Suburban Mom's Political Fix: Notes from Election Day

Voting: I took the kids with me to vote in our small town in the western suburbs of Boston this morning at around 10. (There's no school today.)

We saw no lines as we entered the school gym and were greeted by a sweet Girl Scout. We waited patiently as she explained in a whisper-soft voice, where we needed to go first -- to check in by our street address. With my ballot in hand, the kids jockeyed for a good position in which to get a look at it as we crammed ourselves into the polling booth. They couldn't believe how many people were running for president. They thought it was just John McCain and Barack Obama.

"The Green-Rainbow Party?" my daughter asked incredulously.

"Yep," I said, as I read aloud all the different presidential/vice presidential candidates and their corresponding parties and the children shook their heads.

They were a bit dismayed when I wouldn't let them fill in the bubbles with the black pen provided -- there was no chance I was going to risk them filling in the wrong circle and ruin my opportunity to vote in this election -- but I did let them help me feed the paper ballot into the machine when we were done. The dullness of putting a ballot into a machine made me miss the time I voted in my first election in my hometown where they have actual levers to pull and a curtain that would dramatically open and record my choices when I was done. It's anti-climatic to fill in a bubble with a pen.

MSNBC All Day: I've had MSNBC on TV all day. I'm a sucker for their "Election Center" in Rockefeller Center and am a big crazy fan of the crew from Morning Joe.

Random Observations:

I thought Barack and Michelle Obama took a really long time filling out their ballots in Chicago. They must have a huge number of Illinois ballot questions or many contested races. (Massachusetts had three ballot questions.) Their 10-year-old daughter Malia, in her hoodie, looked thoroughly bored and yawned several times.

The first thing that came to my mind when I saw Sarah and Todd Palin leave the polls in Wasilla? Shamefully, it was that, as I looked at the vice presidential candidate, I wondered if she'd already given all the expensive campaign-funded duds away to charity.

Calling the Winner Early: I was disturbed by a piece I saw in today's New York Times about when the broadcast and cable news networks will project a winner tonight. I'm a big believer -- even in the age of the Internet, Twitter and Facebook -- of officially holding back on projecting a winner in the presidential race when people are still in the process of voting.

If a candidate concedes, then that person is affecting the voter turnout in places where the votes haven't yet been cast and it's not the media's doing.

But if a candidate hasn't yet conceded, the decent, patriotic thing to do is to wait until polls have closed before calling a state's results. If the networks call the entire election before the folks on the west coast have finished voting, that move would essentially tell people who haven't yet voted that their votes are irrelevant.

The viewers can wait. A little while anyway.

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