Lunchtime Voters Brighten Cloudy Skies

A diverse line of men, women, black, white, young adults, older citizens, business professionals and blue-collar workers wrapped around the corner of 10th Street Northwest at Garnet Patterson Junior High on Tuesday.

Under a cloudy sky, people patiently waited in the cool air to cast their votes. To pass time,. voters listened to iPods, read the newspaper, played games on their cell phones, drank coffee and conversed with others in line about their candidate of choice.

In the early morning, people waited at least an hour to vote. “I came and looked at the line and it was all the way around the corner, and I live in the neighborhood so I just walked back over,” said Roger Alridge, 49, of D.C who was pleased with his decision of returning to meet a much shorter line. Linda Bukman, 57, a registered nurse from D.C. took a half day off to come out and vote. “I didn’t know I could vote early until yesterday, but I wouldn’t have done it either way,” she said. “No special reason; I just feel that I’d come here and cast my vote.” District of Columbia residents were allowed to vote via absentee vote. Yet, according to the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics, citizens had to have a reason why they couldn’t vote at their polling place on Election Day.

Rain that drizzled around 12:15 p.m. did not deter D.C. citizens who were eager to support Barack Obama.

“I’m optimistic, but I was thinking about four years ago and eight years ago being so disappointed at what happened so I’m cautiously optimistic,” said Steve Tulin, 55, a psychologist, about claims of voting irregularities surrounding President Bush’s victories in the last two presidential elections.

Nevertheless, Tulin said, “I think it’s going to be a great day for Barack Obama.”

Enthusiastic voters shouted “I am trying to get my BA-ROCK the vote on,” as they walked swiftly to the voting booths.

Around 12:30 p.m., the line began to significantly die down and voters were exiting the poll before a blink of an eye. The polling center had one electronic voting station and several stations with paper ballots organized alphabetically.

“We try to pace it, but we do a lot more paper than touch screen because of the fact that people are used to paper,” said the head poll worker Crystal Lee.

Indeed, most people appeared to favor the paper ballots. “I’m old fashioned. and that’s just what I’m used to,” Tulin said.

People seemed to be in a great spirits as they exited the polls, discussing their plans for the anticipated night of victory.

If Obama wins, celebrations will pour into the streets of D.C., according to the hopeful voters. “I plan to go with my friend, put down the top on the car, load a CD of ‘Sign, Sealed Delivered’ and crank it up as loud as we can and drive all around town,” Tulin said.