Voting, With Bagels

I probably should have known better than to try to vote early. My polling place is just down the street at DeLaSalle High School, so I figured I’d pop over at 7am before hopping my bus to work. But when I poked my head out the door, I could already see the line snaking around the school onto West Island Avenue, and I thought better of standing in the drizzle for a couple hours.

I remembered hearing that midday would be the easiest time to get in line, so I headed off to a morning rehearsal, returning around 11.30am. The line was exactly as long as it had been when I left. Seriously. Of course, as a lifelong DFLer, this was encouraging, since high turnout will probably favor my guy, but still. Ugh. In any case, I had thought far enough ahead to bring a good book, and settled in for a nice long wait. At least the rain had stopped.

All in all, it took about an hour and forty minutes, and was as painless as it could possibly have been. The official greeters out front were all smiles, and immediately descended on each new person in line to check addresses and be sure than no one was waiting in an interminable line at the wrong place. The actual voting took place in the school’s lobby, which is fairly small, but the officials inside were as efficient as they could be without being brusque, and when one of the optical scan machines into which completed ballots are inserted jammed, someone knowledgable was right on top of it, and had it fixed in seconds. There appeared to be a couple of partisan “poll watchers” in the mix, but they sat off to the side, quietly observing, and didn’t hold up the process at all.

About 80 minutes into my wait, a smiling young woman came through the door with huge boxes of bagels and coffee from Bruegger’s and Taraccino, which she began handing out free of charge. I have no idea if this largesse was courtesy of the state or the bagelry/coffee shop (I’m betting on the latter), but it was a great idea. Oh, and the woman distributing the bagels also recognized me as a violist in the Minnesota Orchestra, which, like, never happens, and I had to restrain myself from dancing a little victory jig.

Eventually, I made it to the front of the line, having gotten through 70 pages of my book, and filled out my ballot in about 30 seconds, ignoring all the judicial races on the reverse side. (Minnesota law is uniquely structured to prevent the electorate from ever knowing anything about our judicial candidates other than the fact that they will be on the ballot, so in protest of the well-meaning but ludicrous system, I generally skip judicial contests.)

I paused briefly when I got to the race for state representative, since my veteran state rep was recently caught stealing GOP campaign literature and replacing it with DFL stuff in another district. Honestly, I had considered voting for another candidate after the story broke, but the problem is, Phyllis Kahn is so entrenched in this district that none of the other parties bothers to run anyone even remotely qualified. The Republican candidate is, as usual, a student at the U, and while I applaud the initiative, I’m really not wasting my vote on something like that. Besides, Phyllis lives right down the street from me, and I see her all the time, and she’s just the nicest, smartest legislator you could hope for, so I shrugged and filled in her oval. I’m sure she’ll win in a landslide, as usual.

I always get a huge kick out of voting, and I hope I always will. This year, when people of all political stripes are taking such pride in the process, and hoping against hope for a clear result when it’s all over, it was even more satisfying. After all, we’ve got something to prove to the world this time around, and if we screw it up again, who knows what kind of chaos might result? Everyone I saw today seemed determined to avoid having to find out.

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