Georgetown Polling Precinct Is a Community Affair

The polls at Precinct 5 buzz with light conversation and greetings between neighbors, friends and relatives gathered to vote.

Christ Episcopal Church, just a few minutes outside the Georgetown shopping district in Northwest Washington, has the spirit of “Cheers”: everybody knows your name.

People walk their dogs, hug neighbors and sit in groups outside the polling place to talk about casual business and neighborhood affairs. And a clutch of foreign reporters was eager to record this American electoral scene.

Ellen Charles, self-described housewife, walks her two dogs down 31st Street NW for a second visit to the polls after voting earlier.

“Hi Katie,” she shouts to a friend coming to greet her dogs.

Up ahead, another neighborhood poodle – known as “the voting dog” – is barking and entertaining passersby. Nearby, Gary Parsons, a contractor known to friends as the Renaissance Man, gathers with his friends to discuss politics. Although he came to the polls alone, he met up with some of his buddies at the precinct. One of them, Stefanie Freydont, a jewelry designer, worked with Parsons in previous political campaigns.

A Democrat, Parsons expressed his anxiety about the outcome of the election.

“You just never know,” he says. “Every Democrat is nervous right now.”Among the familiar faces was Catherine Bowman, on hand to assist residents with voting.

“I have volunteered here for 30 years. District Weekly did an article on me,” the 82-year-old volunteer boasts.

Inside the voting precinct, lines are short with only about 10 to 20 people at a time. Outside is a different story as many of the neighbors continue to gather, socializing, and taking pictures.

Gabor Steingart, a correspondent from the German magazine Der Speigel, strolls up to the site with his young daughter, Tamaera. Though he is a foreigner and not eligible to vote, he believes the election here has a great impact overseas and wants to urge Americans to cast their ballots.

Asked who he favors, Steingart puts the question to Tamaera, who smiles shyly but quickly says “Barack Obama.”