Since I’d already been lying awake in bed since 4am, I got up at 5, got ready, and headed out at 7:30 to vote. I went down to the university where, unlike in 2000 when there was no wait, there were about 50-60 local residents in a line that snaked out of the voting area and around the dormitory lobby.
The line moved steadily, though, and after about 20 minutes I was at the front of the line. Looking around the room, the room was set up exactly as it was last time, with four poll workers sitting along long tables, and four voting stations about 15 feet away.
As I approached the table, I noticed the poll workers yelling out and spelling each name rather loudly. One look to the other side of the room and I saw why. There were several people with directories, presumably checking the registration of each voter. Two people sitting in the second row looked to be Republican — middle-aged, prim and proper, in corporate dress. In the first row was a single person, rather young (and strikingly attractive), dressed very casually, sitting lazily in a lounge chair, probably for the Democrats.
The woman in front of me in line knew one of the poll workers. They said their hellos, and after an awkward pause, the poll worker informed the lady that even though the worker recognized her, she still had to say her name aloud. “They’re a lot stricter about it this time around,” she said, leaning forward and with an eye toward the “poll watchers” across the room.
In any case, I saw no problems, and no voter was “challenged” while I was there. I voted straight Democrat, though if I were to decide the senate race based on who ran the best campaign I’d have voted for Sen. Specter over Joe Hoeffel. They were using punch card ballots, so I stuck the needle in, punched it all the way down, wiggled it around and then studied the ballot to make sure the “chad” was gone. It was.
Once I was done, I turned around and handed a poll worker my card. And as I walked away and heard the “thunk” of my ballot being deposited in the secure box, a feeling washed over me. It wasn’t so much the glee that I felt in 2000 when I voted for the first time. Just relief.