How I spent election day

There is nothing like the feeling of being part of something that is bigger than yourself.  That is how I feel when I participate in the campaigning and election process for the position of President of the United States of America (or as it has affectionately been dubbed: POTUS).  Four years ago on election day, I was knocking on doors in a low income housing community in Sarasota, Florida to make sure everyone had had an opportunity to get out and vote.  It was an easy task, and I was met with friendly faces.

This year, I intended to pursue a similar task but was intercepted by the Manatee Democratic Party who needed phone callers.  It was basically the equivalent of door knocking but on the phone.  My dear friend Deb agreed to help, and we were given three lists of Democrats to call.  I arrived at her house around 11:00 a.m., and we each began with an 11-page list.

I had brought my tablet with me so I could keep up with Facebook, Twitter and the news while I was making calls.  You know me… always multi-tasking.  The phone calling took much more time than I had anticipated.  I figured out that I had to wait at least a full minute sometimes to see if an answering machine would pick up.  As it turned out, not everyone had an answering machine, so then sometimes it would ring for a minute and ten seconds before I would decide that I wasn’t going to get anyone.  Each page of names had about 30 lines, although some were at the same number – couples or family members.  This made a few less numbers to call.

There was a simple script that we left on answering machines, and if someone actually answered, we just asked if they’d gotten out to vote yet.  If they had, we thanked them and hung up.  If not, we tried to make sure they didn’t have any questions.

During the course of the morning, my cell phone announced that I had a message.  As I had just gotten a new phone and hadn’t transferred all my contacts into it yet, it only announced the number without a name.  But the message got my full attention:  “Hey Elsie!  So getting ready to vote.  Do u really think we can trust Obama?”  The number was in Florida, and without yet knowing who it was, I replied, “YES!!!!!!!”  Then I thought I should offer further guidance so I added, “Call me if you want to discuss!”  I then opened my tablet and was thankfully able to search by phone number and found out which friend it was.  So far as I know, she followed my advice.  I was so happy she reached out!

Then, during the afternoon, when my back was starting to ache from sitting down, and my eyes were starting to blur from staring at my lists, I saw something a friend in Vermont had posted on Facebook:  “yeah I get it but if I did vote it would be for Obama , I don’t like the other guy but to be honest I have never voted in my life I am registered but I just don’t get all this political bullshit I still think Rob Zombie would rock :)))”  My heart skipped a beat.  She clearly said she would vote for Obama but wasn’t going to vote and had NEVER voted!  So I gave her a little nudge saying, “You should vote!”  She then private messaged me, and I put aside my call list to give our conversation my full attention.  She said, “To be honest I never have and I am seriously thinking about it but I don’t even know what to do I’m registered how do i do it do I just go down there and vote don’t I have to do something first I really don’t know”  So, I got her address and looked up her polling place, which turned out to be right down the road from her.  Then I answered all her questions and told her to get down there and do it!  And she did!  It was the most amazing moment in my whole election experience!

Then it was back to phone calls until 6:00 p.m.  At that time, we had each finished our list and called it quits.  We headed down to my favorite English pub, Shakespeare’s to see what Democrats were around.  As it turned out, we were either really early or the Dems were congregating elsewhere.  A Republican friend showed up in his bright red Romney/Ryan t-shirt, and we exchanged good-natured barbs.  Some very preliminary data came in but nothing definitive.

Deb and I decided to head over the OFFICIAL Democratic watch location, Marina Jack’s.  As we walked from the car along the bay-front, a wonderful Gulf breeze blew over us.  What a beautiful night for a victory!

Sarasota bayfront on election night
Sarasota bayfront on election night

The room was packed with people, televisions, news reporters with spotlights and video cameras.  Everyone was riveted to the screens.  When we had left Shakespeare’s, the President had 3 electoral votes and Romney had 33.  When we arrived, it was more equally distributed.  We were going to sit outside in the beautiful night air, but the televisions out there didn’t have as good reception as the ones inside.

Marina Jack's on election night

I ran into a few wonderful friends while we were there, and we all cheered every time CNN showed Obama ahead in a state.  By 10:00, he had not yet reached 270 votes, but he was definitely in the lead, and Ohio and Florida were getting close.  We decided to head out at that point.

Marina Jack's on election night

Deb and I

Back at Deb’s we turned on the tube, and I kept my head buried in my tablet, flipping back and forth between Twitter and Facebook.  I would see states called before they showed up on CNN.  Then I saw it… someone posted, “Obama has won!”  My heart started beating a thousand times a second.  I saw it again.  Then again.  I raced from site to site and kept seeing it.  I didn’t want to believe until I saw it on CNN, though.  Why aren’t they calling it?

The rest, as you know, is history.

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