Saturday Edition: Long Time Watcher, First Time Voter

I have been fascinated with politics and elections for a long time now. While normal boys would get excited about their Superbowls and World Cups, I would get excited for Presidential Elections. The first one I can remember was 1992’s Bush v Clinton election. I remember, as a little kid, watching both candidates on TV. I remember the ads, the news shows, the saxophone playing on Arsenio. I remember Ross Perot acting all crazy during debates. We even had mock elections in school, where I voted for Bush (he isn’t as bad as people made him out to be, honestly, watch the HBO doc 41). My elementary school vote didn’t count, but it was so cool to actually vote. At the end of the night, Clinton ended up winning and he ended up being a pretty fun guy. (Lauren Edit: Classic Kamel Understatement.)

Because I was only a resident (and under age), I couldn’t vote back then. But even when I turned 18, I still had the problem of not being a Citizen. Something I fixed much later in my life. No matter, I still was a huge fan of elections, politics and campaigning. I will NEVER forget the giant clusterfuck my home state of Florida caused in the 2000 election. And having been living in Miami at the time made it so much more real. TOO CLOSE TO CALL… for like a month. Lawyers, and recounts and hanging/dimpled/pregnant CHADS. Katherine Harris’ smug face, loving all the power she had. Our governor Jeb Bush siding with his brother. My aunt, amongst others, telling us they voted for Nader. Anyway, there is an amazing HBO movie detailing all of this called Recount. Watch it sometime.

Well two things happened during that whole thing. One, I believe that was the decisive moment when the country split itself in half for the next 10 years. And Two, I, more than any other moment wished I would’ve been a citizen, registered and had voted. The loss by only 537 votes in my state made me feel like every single vote matters! Beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Sadly, due to many other factors (Lauren Edit: and by “factors” he means laziness… and stubbornness… true story), I didn’t become a Citizen until much later. Just in time for the 2012 election. So exciting. This time, I had the power to vote.

The night before the election, I was so excited I couldn’t sleep. I kept checking all the polls, the news, 538. I double checked my California props just in case I had written down my choices wrong a few nights prior with Lauren. After Lauren went to bed, I kept on watching CNN and Fox News on my iPad while reading Nate Silver’s blog. The news channels called it razor thin, while 538 called it a clear Obama win. I had a feeling the stats were accurate and the media was just pretending it was tight. It didn’t matter, I couldn’t wait to vote. So I shut down all my iDevices (Lauren Edit: Barf at this term.) and tried to sleep.

I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned, and worried and stressed. Knowing we had to wake up at 5:30am to shower and be in line at our local polling place before 7am. The pressure! The thrills! Ahhh!! What if we were late? What if the lines were just like in Florida at 9 hours long?! (Oh Florida… you old so and so, up to your old tricks.)

Lauren woke up at some point to pee and I told her I couldn’t sleep because I was worried, and she was like awww you’re nervous for your first time voting. And then she patted me, laughed, rolled over, and passed out.

The alarm went off, and up we got. Showered, dressed and readied for voting and for work. Lauren would like me to point out that she was wearing her very cute maternity skinny jeans in patriotic blue.

6:45am and out the door we jumped. We walked over to the voting place, just two blocks away, and I got super excited all over again. And of course me being me and Lauren being Lauren, pictures had to be taken.

We got in line and I was pleasantly surprised by the turn out in our little hood. We were asked what precinct we were in and right away, had no idea. This is where I started to panic! I’M ALREADY DOING IT WRONG. But no worries, Lauren went and found the right one while I started sweating and losing my mind.

Lauren went in first to her little e-booth (Lauren says electronic voting is like a PlaySkool toy) and began pecking away at her candidates and props.

Then came me. They asked me for my name, found it on the list. Amazing. My name finally in a voting list! They asked if I wanted to vote electronically or with a Paper Ballot. Since I have always, always dreamed of voting on a paper ballot, paired with my  inability (Lauren Edit: and irrational fears considering how many SCREENS we have in our HOUSE) to trust the voting computers at all – I went with paper.

I went over to my little booth which was decorated with American flags and such and I started going at it. First up: President. Not Romney, not Roseanne Barr. Gary Johnson… I wish… Obama, there he is! Bubble in! The ballot was so much bigger than I thought, so many more questions than just President – thank god we had done our homework.

When I was done I walked over to the ballot box, tore off my receipt and dumped it in!

I VOTED!

I was super excited all day, watching CNN. I wore my sticker on my jacket and still haven’t taken it off. It was a fun day.

At the end of the day, science won over the GOP’s fantasy world. Karl Rove even had a meltdown on Fox News. It was fabulously surreal to watch, and if you have 18ish minutes, PLEASE watch this, it’s mesmerizing:

The best part, later in the evening, was generally evil, bitchy Megyn Kelly asking Rove,

Is this just math that you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better? Or is this real?

Days after, listening to the conservative shows and Fox News, I started to get a positive feeling. I’m hoping that an election cannot be one from now on with made up stats, attacking gay marriage, immigration, treating women as 2nd class morons, while sending a message that focuses mainly on appealing to the evangelicals and super rich. This election was the one about change. Republican turnout was around 2 million less than in 2008, and this makes me excited for the possibility of 2016. The best case scenario is a better, more diverse GOP, where both candidates are solid, and where differences in policy are just differences – and has nothing to do with trying to please corporations and big business, perpetuate inequality, or threaten women’s health.

I really hope that in 2016, the Election is one where no matter if the candidate is Republican or Democrat, I have a hard time choosing. (Like Santos vs Vinick.)

11 thoughts on “Saturday Edition: Long Time Watcher, First Time Voter”

  1. I love how excited you were to vote! Here in Australia it’s compulsory to vote, so people tend to be ambivalent about it.

    I do have a question though – why does it take so long for people to vote there?! Having to stand in line for HOURS to vote is insane (IMO).

    1. Thanks! I can’t wait to do it again. =)

      There was a reasonable cause for long lines in a few states due to Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath. But those states managed to handle it well. All were offered alternate ways to vote, extensions and some even voted by email.

      But in Ohio and Florida, the long lines were an intentional side effect caused by the Republican officials in those states cutting back on early voting hours (even against supreme court orders). The cuts were only made in heavily democratic, low income districts in hopes that those folks would give up and not vote. Especially since most had to work.

      The efforts didn’t work since most people stayed in line for up to 9 hours and voted. Even with no water being provided to them and some having fainted, they stuck it out and voted.

      The problem was big enough to cause Florida to not have final results still to this day. Voting continued many hours after the state had closed polls.

      Hopefully the voters remember what their officials caused when they are up for re-election. =)

      1. Ah that makes sense re Hurrican Sandy’s aftermath … but the Ohio/Florida explanation makes me o.O I’m glad that people waited hours to have they’re say. The fact that they cared enough to wait says a lot 🙂

  2. Oh my gosh. You have no idea that this post has me sitting here with happy tears on my face. I love, love, love that you were (and are) so excited about voting. I wish all Americans could realize and remember what a privilege and a joy it is and should be to cast a vote. Congrats on your first election … hopefully the first of many more!!!

  3. I can only hope that more people have the sort of attitude towards voting that you had in your first experience. Having a say, even if it’s only a very small one, as to who will control your country is a pretty big deal. Especially when the options you are being given are so different ideologically.

  4. LOVE IT. 🙂 So glad you wrote this, Kamel!

    I admit I was really excited to vote, too. I voted in the last election, but honestly I wasn’t terribly concerned about which candidate won. This time I was much more emotionally invested in the outcome. So scary! I wish I’d known of Nate Silver before the election (and his blog/predictions.) I’ve been living in a little grad-school-callie-world for a long time, and not knowing what’s going on.

  5. Aaaah CONGRATULATIONS on your first time voting!! It’s rad and awesome and I wish every American appreciate this unbelievable right we have.

    I’m a little bit saddened to say I have never been to an actual voting booth to vote! My first election, I was an absentee so voted by mail…and then Washington shortly after switched to all mail-in ballots. WHICH, I have to say–seems to actually be a pretty effective system. No standing in line, no voter suppression, no worrying if the machine is going to correctly count my vote (I’m with you there, Kamel!). But I do wish we got to experience that election-day buzz of your community coming together and doing this big, important thing.

  6. So, I’m really late commenting, I need to catch up on my blog reading. But it was my first time voting too. I applied for citizenship in November of 2010 after the excitement of the elections. I didn’t get to go to a polling place to vote, since I live in Washington, but it was so exciting to fill out the ballot and take it to the mail. And feel like I was making a difference, especially once the results came in, as I live in a very conservative area and my vote (especially for gay marriage) went counter to local popular opinion.

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