There are signs decorating the slightly muddy green and brown patches of grass on the outside of the sidewalks on this grey, dreary Tuesday. At first glance, there are several red Sen. John McCain posters lining the sidewalk facing the traffic on Connecticut Avenue. The adjacent street is lined with posters of McCain’s presidential opponent, Sen. Barack Obama. A full body, life-sized cut out poster of Obama stands next to a life-sized Kwame Brown, Washington, D.C.’s At-Large Council Democrat, and another poster that Brown endorsed, encouraging voters to vote democrat.
Mariana Perez, a Ward 3 resident, is taking pictures of the scene. “I’m not from here, I’m from Mexico,” Perez said. “But if I could, I would vote Obama.” Welcome to Edmund Burke School, the polling site for Ward 3 residents in upper northwest, Washington, D.C.
Mary Manning, a 75-year-old senior, watches from the sidewalk, wearing her red Obama baseball cap, and comfortable t-shirt and jeans. It appears as though she is manning her own personal station, with a fold-up red chair sitting next to a table with fliers and more posters. She has been at the polls since 8 a.m. It is now 4 p.m. and Manning is still outside, encouraging, inspiring, and helping to bring some cheer and support to voters.
Manning describes her voting experience as easy, and the volunteers and workers at the polls as friendly and helpful.
“My voting experience has been excellent. There were no problems,” she said.
She’s been watching people for the past few hours, noting that many were giving encouraging thumbs up signs, and saying “Obama.”
The polling process has been moving quite rapidly in this northwest neighborhood. At 12 p.m., approximately 1,200 votes were cast. At 4:30 pm, about 2,700 votes had been cast, accounting for roughly 75 percent of the Ward 3 population, said Donaldson.
Inside, Sharon McDaniel, captain of the Edmund Burke polling center, greets with a warm smile, and bright blue-green eyes. She talks of the historical element of this campaign.
“You’re lucky because you’re young, but you have no idea. You just don’t understand what it was like before,” McDaniel said.
McDaniel shares memories of her adolescence in the 1960’s, when she says, “Anything was possible.” It was a time when America was beginning to embrace diversity in race, gender, age, and sexual orientation. She feels some of the embracing of tolerating differences has been lost in recent years, yet feels hope with the diversity that this campaign has brought. “I never thought I would see this in my lifetime,” McDaniel states. “African-Americans have come a long way; women have come a long way. I think about that beautiful family. What an example for black children.”
Daniel Klibanoff, a member of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission in Ward 3, arrived to the polls at 6:45 a.m.
“I got here fifteen minutes before the polls actually opened, and 200 people voted before me,” he said.
“I’ve been to five other precincts, and I must say this one has been running very smoothly,” said David Donaldson, captain of this voting precinct, and a delegate of the D.C. State Committee at Large.
He attributes much of the success to Councilmember Mary Cheh.
“There were some issues here at this polling site during the primary elections,” he said, noting some glitches in the voting machines. Cheh worked hard to make sure the machines were up to par and running smoothly. Donaldson said Cheh would not allow for anything to go wrong on this election day.