I was the 5th or 6th person to get into a line that had formed in front of City Hall in the dark just before 7:00 am Tuesday morning. With only a few minutes to go before the poll was to open, we could clearly see inside through the outer glass wall into the well-lit polling place. The three election workers scurried around in preparation for the day. One fellow wondered aloud about what time the workers must arrive to set everything up by 7:00, but none of us knew. It was quite chilly out and a little breezy. The scotch tape holding up the “Vote Here” sign on the front door came loose and the sign fell down. I walked over and taped it back up. Joking about the sign falling off, we all laughed. All Americans, all Oklahomans.
The doors opened to the polling place with only a minute to spare. Our precinct poll workers have been the very same three ladies for several election cycles now. One of the poll workers is the mother of Michael Brown who was the FEMA Director during Hurricane Katrina. Guymon is a small town, and so I am casually acquainted with all three of these women. It must have been a little hectic getting the poll set up this morning, as they seemed slightly harried, not quite as relaxed or talkative as usual, but still just as polite as can be.
After officially signing in with the first women, the second handed me my ballot and quickly greeted me by my first name before I moved off to an open poll enclosure to fill in my ballot. I completed my ballot, carefully fed it into the ballot box machine, and walked over to turn my ballot marker back in to the third.
“Thank you for voting,” Mrs. Brown said as she peeled an “I Voted” sticker off the roll, leaned forward, and handed it to me.
“You’re welcome,” I grinned as I proudly applied the “I Voted” sticker beside the company logo on my Polo shirt and began to walk away. Then pausing, I turned back to her and quietly added, “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
I knew she got my meaning as she reclined slightly in her chair, looked up and with a calm confidence replied, “Neither would I.”
Tuesday was a long day for me, heading out early to the polls and then staying up late to watch the election results on TV that night. While not trilled with every single race across the entire country, the races in Oklahoma all turned out the way I had hoped, each and every one of them. These results made for a perfect ending to a long Election Day for this Oklahoma Panhandler.
I would not have missed it for the world.