Field Notes: Pennsylvania

From M.L. Van Valkenburgh:

The voting wave rolled over small-town Central Pennsylvania today. I arrived at the school I had attended for grades 1-3 grades (very weird!) a little after 7 a.m. to find lines down the hall and around the corner. Not wanting to be late to work, I decided to come back at lunchtime.

The Republicans had a big showing outside the polling place. The Democrats had a card table strewn with some papers and nobody manning it, at least when I was there.

When I returned later in the day, the line was slightly less long, but not much. But since doing my civic duty was going to get me out of seeing one of my clients, I decided to wait. I finally made it to the cafeteria where I ran into a problem . . . despite a call last month to make sure I was still registered in Pennsylvania (where I recently moved back to), I was listed as “Inactive.”

A volunteer – some old guy with long greasy white hair in a pony tail – tried calling voter HQ for me to get me activated again, but the line was consistently busy.

A neighbor, and fellow Democrat, was a volunteer voter police for the day, and she began getting upset that I was about to be deprived of my right to vote. I assuaged her fears by ensuring her that I would file a provisional ballot – which I did.

Later in the afternoon, my father called to tell me he’d taken the e-mail the voter board had sent saying I was registered and that the old guy had attached it to my provisional ballot. Thus, I voted.

Reports from co-workers are that lines are generally long and turnout has been huge. The only person I spoke with who didn’t have to wait lives in a town with a population of about 50. While I was in line, a friend texted me to tell me that he was in line. Also while I was in line (when two charming little boys weren’t shoving each other into me), I took note of numerous young voters – something one doesn’t often see in this sleepy little town.

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