I Waited 3 Hours to Vote in a Pandemic. This Is How It Went.
If you can wait in line Disney World for hours every day of your vacation, you can wait a few hours to vote. Get out and do it. No excuses.
1:30 p.m.: I arrive at the senior center in my town on October 24th, the first day to vote early in New York. The cops are there to control traffic. The line goes around the entire building and the lawn, and into the parking lot.
1:32 p.m.: I overhear a man and woman a few spots ahead of me say the line is about 2 hours long according to a volunteer. Yikes. But I go back to college tomorrow morning.
1:40 p.m.: I wish I looked more liberal today.
1:53 p.m.: An older white man right in front of me with gray hair and a bald spot is calling what I assume is as many people as he could to complain about the line. He’s sporting a plain grey crew neck, sturdy-looking blue jeans that give off the illusion of being very blue-collar but too clean to actually be, and classic black Dad New Balances.
2:00 p.m.: Uh oh. I have to pee.
2:03 p.m.: A boy around 20 is 3 people in front of me with a woman, probably his mother. He’s wearing a NY Islanders mask below his nose. This is why your team didn’t get the Stanley Cup, bro.
2:04 p.m.: A mom is in line with her son (young teens) in an American flag mask and her daughter (maybe middle school?) in a surgical mask that barely covers her mouth. The mom doesn’t correct her.
Around 2:15 p.m.: A man arrives with a professional-looking camera to take photos of the scene.
2:20 p.m.: I start looking for 4 leaf clovers in the grass with no luck. A sign?
2:26 p.m.: First definite Karen spotted. Navy blue vest over a pink and purple floral shirt, short brown hair with visible brassy blonde roots, rose gold hoop earrings. She’s sitting at a picnic table staring at her phone over glasses with gems on the rim. What is she doing? Why isn’t she in line? Is her family here?
2:30 p.m.: Three young Black women are sitting at a picnic table now too, I guess this is a thing while someone else holds a spot in line? It looks like they’re playing a game.
2:36 p.m.: I catch myself thinking about how this many people in one place just a few months ago would have induced culture shock in my own hometown. I remember to be thankful I’m here and healthy, as all these people are. I also remember why this line is so important.
2:54 p.m.: A cop passes out 12 dominos pizzas to circulate through the line. He says it’s from an organization called “Pizza To The Polls.” This feels unsanitary but AMEN.
A man in a red flannel, worn-out boat shoes and blue jeans, a dirty trucker hat and his mask on his chin is currently walking around passing out slices. Mayyybe I just tough it out.
2:56 p.m.: I see my first person with NO MASK. A woman around 50-ish with glasses with yellow lenses (They resemble the transition lenses I had in 2011, and if you saw me in those no you didn’t). She’s sitting on a bench, but still close enough to spread her stupid germs.
3:08 p.m.: Islanders mask kid is now wearing the mask as a chin strap. Governor Cuomo would be so disappointed.
3:10 p.m.: My mom stops by the line to say hi for a few minutes on her way home from work. Like the good daughter I am, I use her to hold my place while I walk to a friend’s house down the street to pee. Perks of living in a small town.
3:24 p.m.: A woman near the back of the line is watching what sounds like Hamilton on a tablet. Absolute power move.
3:30 p.m.: I see a man and a woman hugging for a long time. I’m reminded again of how important this line is.
3:44 p.m.: The maskless lady is maskless no more!
3:54 p.m.: I learn from a Traffic Control Officer that the last man in line is an elderly fellow who had a stent done yesterday. RESPECT.
4:00 p.m.: The original maskless lady walks by, this time sans mask again. Is she doing laps around the building? Where did the mask go? Ma'am?
4:03 p.m.: As I round the corner to the front of the building and poll workers come into view, everyone collectively decides to put their mask on correctly. Even Islanders mask kid.
4:06 p.m.: A young woman with short blonde hair half runs, half jumps out of the front doors and cheers with her friends. Chills. Yay voting!
4:17 p.m.: The vibe is eerie as I near the door. I can see the voting booths through the window now.
4:21 p.m.: Islanders mask kid hugs his mom for a while. He’s actually kind of cute. Wish you had a few brain cells, bud.
4:31 p.m.: It starts to drizzle just before I get to the overhang before the door. Appropriate.
My heart is pounding. My hands are sweaty. Do I have everything I need? What if something is wrong with my registration? Too late now. My phone is on 4% so I put it away in case I have to pull up any of my information inside.
Once I got in the building, I checked in with an older woman who looked up my name and had me confirm my address, then I was given a receipt to hand to another woman who printed a ballot for me to fill out in one of the privacy booths. The line probably would have moved twice as fast if there were more booths inside, but there were only a handful due to social distancing.
4:38 p.m.: I VOTED!
3 hours in line and I didn't even get a damn sticker. But the voter's high is real.
Check out this list of places to vote early. If you're waiting till November 3rd, or already sent in your absentee ballot, I'm proud of you too. Good luck, lets do this America!