8:40 AM: Drove to polling place. The neighborhood next to mine, just down the street from the junior high and the Boys and Girls Club. When I was 11 I delivered newspapers to this neighborhood. At the end of a cul-de-sac there is a small building that functions as a community center, a community pool in the back. Normally on election day there are 3-4 cars parked in front, today there are about a dozen. Inside a small room, about 15x15, there are flimsy tall tables ringed with a small cardboard divider that serve as voting booths. Usually there are eight such stands, today there are about 14. There is also one electronic machine for disabled voters, and one optical scanning machine.
8:45 AM There are four poll workers: two women in their 70s who are probably the same women I see every couple of years. There is also a young Latina about 20, standing off to the side quietly. The women are sitting behind a desk and look up my name before asking me to sign and write down my address. They hand me two ballots, one for offices, one for propositions. The fourth worker is a man nearing 80 who helps one voter put her ballots in the scanner. "She's our 100th voter!" he says to no one in particular, and the woman gives a little squeal of delight. "Have you been busy?" I ask. "Ohhhhh, yeah!" says one of the older ladies. I find an empty "booth" where there is a regular black ball point pen waiting.
8:47 PM I put a mark next to the name of Barack Obama for president. I fill out the other bubbles in a bit of a daze. I fill out the "No" box for Proposition 8, taking a brief second to remember mentors of mine who died of AIDS, alone because their companions were not allowed to visit.
8:52 PM The machine scans my ballots. I notice a paper ribbon coming from the machine like a receipt. "Over-vote" reads one section, "Double vote" reads another – an indication of previous users who had filled out their ballot. The machine had caught their errors and they had been permitted to receive a new ballot to fill out properly. No guarantee, of course, but I feel a bit more assured. "Do you want a sticker?" says the Latina. "YES!" I say loudly. "That's the best part!"
8:53 PM As I walk to my car four more cars are parking, and three more people walking towards the polling place. One Latino asks me "Is it crowded in there?" "Yes," I say, "there's a lot of people, but you get right in." "Thanks," he says.
8:58 AM I'm home in bed with my cat. I've got reading to do. Just another election.