Participating in Democracy

So it has been an entire week since the election and I am just now
sharing my thoughts from the day. In fact, as with other momentus
events, I get stuck on writing about the event and clog up my entire
blog system. There’s nothing like spending a few hours at my fourth
service station of the day sans book to get the blog flowing again.

I think that I used this same picture after the primaries, since I
took it then. Point blank, our precinct was so busy Election Day that
I was exhausted by the time things calmed down around 3 pm. I was not
able to fall asleep until 3:30 am since I knew I needed to wake at 5:30.

Going on two hours of sleep, I was ready for my second breakfast at 9
am. By that point, I also decided that I drastically needed to edit my
speech that I was making as I gave voters their ballots. If people
seemed confident, I didn’t need to explain every single step of the
election process. A lot of people had filled in the arrows before and
knew to look for the large blue bin in which to feed their ballots.

But I was quite surprised that at least one in twenty had never voted.
This was their first election. I congratulated them if they shared
this with me and shared my more thorough explanation. I also pointed
out that there were other people posted to help make sure the process
went smoothly. If I weren’t so busy, I would have certainly teared up
at several of the stories and emotions shared.

One of my favorite stories involved a resident of the Wah Luck House,
the Chinese retirement home from across 6th Street. She came to the
Chinese Community Church to vote, instead of her normal precinct at
MLK Library. You cannot vote outside of your precinct unless you are
elderly or have a disability. I’m guessing that she was about 80. And
SO proud. This was the first voting precinct in our neighborhood,
thanks to the efforts of Miles Groves.

Miles petitioned the DC BOE to create a new precinct for our
neighborhood, which was just barely 2000 people four years ago. Now
with over 10,000 residents, we didn’t need to wait for the next census
to tell officals we needed a local place to vote. Some of our voters
went to Capitol Hill and others to a random school many blocks away
from anything, and definitely the opposite direction of downtown.

I went with Miles and a small group to testify in favor of the board.
It was a great experience in community development. So I wanted to
also participate in the main event.

Back to the excited voter… After spending the extra time to complete
her special ballot, she turned to the pollworkers and said, “This is
my church. I usually vote at MLK, but I am voting here at my church.
Thank you. You are all my friends.”

And there we sat, an odd cast of characters, all neighbors, becoming
friends and greeting our neighbors throughout the day. Maybe you know
a few people in your building, but it’s great to finally interact with
so many people who share this same tiny space in a growing area of
Washington, DC. I feel very fortunate to live in a nieghborhood that
is so diverse and so excited about being part of history.

By 10 pm I was out like a light, sleeping on the couch. I could hear
the horns honking throughout the neighborhood. But there was no way I
could manage venturing out to see all of the excitement. I couldn’t
even stay awake to watch the results roll in.

And Wednesday, that was a total wash. Good thing I kept the calendar
clear, because a long nap was in order.

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1 Comment

  1. Amy

    Thanks for your work, Caroline!


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