Break out of this minor key.

Growing up, I remember seeing pictures in textbooks of people in other countries waiting in line to vote. There would always be a caption saying something about how this was the first election in that country, and that people waited in these huge long lines for hours in order to be part of that process, to change their government.

And then I would hear news reports about the low numbers of people in our country who vote. It has always made me a little bit sad and ashamed. We have this right, but we don’t understand how much it means, how much people in other parts of the world would give to be able to cast a ballot in their country. (And I understand not liking any of the candidates. My dad was an avid non-voter. The last few elections, he only voted “so that no one else would use his ballot.” You don’t have to vote in all of the races! I never do.) Which is, of course, why this video made me cry. [ETA: There was a CNN video of people waiting 8-10 hours to vote in Atlanta, but it has disappeared.] This is America! We hate to wait for a webpage to open! How could we possibly be waiting 8-10 hours to vote?! However you feel about this election and these candidates, it seems to me that you have to be inspired by the fact that so many more people are voting and so many more people feel involved in the political process. This can only be good for our country. At some point last week, I resolved that if I had to wait in a line on Election Day, I was going to be proud to do so. Not to be holier-than-thou (or anybody), but because I need that reminder from time to time, that what we have going here is pretty good, and it means something.

(Full disclosure: I also cried a little bit last night when I heard Obama’s grandmother had died. How sad for him, to lose the only parent he had left on the evening before the election. I clearly need to stop watching the news.)

I have been keeping the sign count on our calendar, even though I haven’t reported it to you. There was a week or so that Obama seemed to be gaining momentum in North Carolina, and that played out in our neighborhood, too. Then it seemed to level out a bit. And I was having a kind of a hard week, so I didn’t really run, so I am not sure what to tell you about that. hehe. And in the past week or so, I have heard that McCain has gained one or two of those percentage points back. And, indeed, there have been new signs in the past week for McCain. There has also, unfortunately, been an outbreak of sign stealing. And from what I can tell (and I think this is accurate, because I have been watching these signs for many weeks now, and they have been giving my life meaning and purpose), there are signs from both parties missing, but more Obama signs missing than McCain signs. (I reject the theory that these are people who have changed their minds. Sorry, but if those people are passionate enough to put up a sign, they aren’t going to change their minds. I think it’s just mean-spirited sign stealing.) In the past few days, I have seen both Obama and McCain signs that said something along the lines of, “Don’t steal our sign,” or, “Original sign stolen.” Stop stealing signs, hooligans! I need an accurate count!

Now, before I give you the final Election Day sign count (this is allowed, right? It’s totally different than exit polls, hee hee), I want to update you on my favorite house on the planet. The Sarah Palin sign (A woman belongs in the house . . . THE WHITE HOUSE) came back! My theory is that either they went out of town and kept their flags and signs down for safety reasons or they took it to the Sarah Palin rally that was at Elon College. (And I don’t know where they got that sign, but my carpool buddy and I spotted a giant bumper sticker with the exact same wording, picture, and layout when we were driving home one day. They didn’t drive to our neighborhood, but we do wonder if it’s them.) The real thing I have to report about that house is that the neighbors finally snapped and put up a “Carolina is Obama Country” sign. You should have heard me on the phone reporting it to Mike. It basically went like this:

KARI: Oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh.

MIKE: What is happening at the house today?

KARI: Oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh.

MIKE: What is it?

KARI: OH MY GOSH! The neighbors!

MIKE: The neighbors?

KARI: Not our neighbors!

MIKE: I know whose neighbors. I know where you are. It’s that time of day when you pass that house with the signs. TELL ME WHAT HAS HAPPENED.

KARI: The neighbors! They put up an Obama sign!

MIKE: That. Is. Awesome.

KARI: *cackle*

And then I cackled for about 30 more minutes. I love reading the neighborhood dynamics through the observation of political signs. When neighbors face the signs across the street at each other rather than the traditional “sideways” position, I always wonder if there’s actual tension there. Will those neighbors be exchanging Christmas cards this year? Too bad there’s not a way for me to count that.

Sign count!

10/23
Obama signs: 15
McCain signs: 7

What the heck, y’all? That was off the charts!

10/30
Obama signs: 12 (Same route, see? Some are gone!)
McCain signs: 10

11/1
I was a little worried that there would be no signs whatsoever. Because our Obama pumpkin and our Palin pumpkin got stolen and smashed. Who knew if any of the neighborhood’s signs survived? And, in fact, some signs were missing. Some were even missing between Thursday and Saturday! I ran a long time in order to get a good final count for y’all. Ready?
Obama signs: 17
McCain signs: 16

I will miss the sign count. It’s been a lot of fun, and I loved it when people would report to me what the sign count was in their own neighborhoods. Good times. Thanks for participating.

This morning Mike and I got up, put on our red, white, and blue (no, really, we’re both wearing red, white, and blue because we are nerds and Election Day is a holiday for nerds), and showed up at the polls about 10 minutes before they opened. We had coffee and books and we were prepared to wait a while. It took about an hour, which is the longest I have ever waited to vote. Everyone was quiet and serious, but the mood was good as we waited in line. We didn’t overhear many conversations because it was so early and most people were there alone rather than in groups or pairs. (In fact, we were probably the ones that people were listening to.) As soon as we were done, we went to Starbucks and got our free coffee. I was possibly a little bit overexcited at that point, gesturing wildly to my sticker and proclaiming that we had voted. See? Holiday for nerds.

I said all along that I wanted to vote on Election Day because I love to get my sticker. My coworkers have been teasing me about this, saying that my sticker wasn’t going to be worth it. BOY, WERE THEY WRONG.

CHECK IT! My sticker is THE PRESIDENTIAL SEAL. BOO-YA!

At this point, Mike and I had had two cups of coffee each and no food. Can you tell?

Happy Election Day, America!

The title of this post comes from a fun song by Over the Rhine entitled “If a Song Could Be President.” (Scroll down to the bottom of that page for the lyrics.) Triad people! OtR will be at Guilford College on Friday evening! We’ll be there!

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