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My voting experience

November 4, 2008

I woke up at five, hurriedly made my lunch and gathered my things.  I did most of my preparation the night before so that I’d be ready to go by 5:30.  The polls opened at 6, and I figured I’d need to get there early in order to vote on time and still make it to work by 8:30.

Sure enough, when I arrived, in the cold, in complete darkness, there was already a line formed outside of about 60 people.  I stepped up behind a friendly couple and waited.  Everyone there was excited and upbeat.  No one complained about the cold or the wait.  It was as if everyone had a purpose, a mission to make something positive happen.

As we gradually moved into the building when the doors opened at 6, it was clear that the line would move pretty quickly.  They had 6 booths set up in the gymnasium of our community center.  I live in a predominantly African American area, and to see so many faces of color exercising their right to self govern this country was sight to behold.

At one point, we all paused at the sound of the vote-counting machine giving a loud beep, kind of like a microwave.  A woman stuck her ballot into the machine again, and it beeped a second time.  More people who had finished voting formed a line behind her, and a volunteer quickly got on his mobile phone to ask someone, apparently an expert on the machines, what to do.  After a few minutes, the situation was resolved and voting resumed.

By 7:00 I was finished and extremely tired.  I prayed salatul-Fajr and headed to work.  There was no point in returning home.  I stopped at a store to pick up some donuts and orange juice, and even the cashier and other customers were so upbeat and enthusiastic about voting.

The overall experience made feel like I was a part of something important.  I only pray that the votes are counted without hassle and that history is made.  More than anything, I’m hoping my first voting experience is not my last.

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