Voters, some angry, others frustrated, all determined to cast their vote, were sitting on hard metal folding chairs, or leaning against walls, waiting hours after the polls actually closed to punch the keys on the computerized ballot that would make their voices heard.
At 10:30 p.m. Tuesday night, several precincts were still in operation, still with long lines, and there would be no word on any local results until that voting was all but over. Coffee, hot chocolate and pizzas were delivered at several locations for hungry and sometimes chilled voters to consume.
Turnout was significantly higher than expected, and it was obvious that election officials were unprepared for that high turnout.
Over 20,000 people voted in early elections, and yesterday’s overflowing crowds may have convinced more voters that in future elections, especially the Presidential race of 2008, early voting will be the way to go.
At Democratic Headquarters on Legion St., crowds gathered to wait and watch as the national numbers came in, cheering as, state by state, Democrats earned more than enough wins to take back the House of Representatives, garnering enough Senate wins along the way to tip the scales on some issues, but falling short on their goal of six new Democratic seats and Senatorial control. Democrat Harold Ford Jr. lost his bid for a Senate seat by a fairly narrow margin, a disappointment to local Democrats.
The turnout, and the tenor of the vote, affirms dissatisfaction with the Bush administration and its policies, dissatisfaction with the quagmire of Iraq, and voices hope that this change in leadership will focus greater attention on domestic programs that address immediate grassroots concern with education, health care, affordable housing, tax relief for the middle class, property rights, social security, immigration, sustainable and/or renewable energy, minimum wage and jobs.
The scales have tipped in the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate is on the precipice of Democratic control. Democrats now need to take a long hard look at what is, what needs to be changed, and what hope they can offer the American people. Democrats need to listen to their constituency, to work together, and create a realistic platform that will resonate with the voters of this country in 2008.
Hundreds of voters who got to the polls before the 7 p.m. cutoff stayed, standing in long lines hours after the official close of the polls to exercise their right to vote.
Apparently they do not want to “stay the course” and, across the city, across the state, across the country, they used the ballot box to voice their desire for change.