The Clerk doesn't seem to care for my presence inside the early voting site. I'm a certified pollwatcher, a volunteer for Barack Obama, there to ensure every vote is counted. I assume her focus is serving the hundreds of would-be voters that have been waiting on line for hours, many of them outside, under a hot sun. It's 2:00 PM and the temperature is in the 90's, with high humidity. Paramedics are standing nearby, just in case. The press waits to report something other than the long waits.
On my way in I'd noticed someone carrying an armful of bottled water and a dozen hands immediately going up. The water was gone in seconds. Some voters read the voluminous sample ballot as if studying for test. An ancient woman was napping in a wheelchair while someone, perhaps her daughter, blocked the sun with a large black umbrella.
I introduced myself to the only other poll watcher inside. He's representing John McCain. He's young and dressed in a suit. His hair is combed forward into a point resting in the middle of his forehead. I notice his briefcase embroidered with his candidate's name on it. He tells me he's been there all day and everything has been going smoothly, except for the printers. They keep breaking down. A commotion disrupts our idle chit-chat. The crowd has just learned the woman in the wheelchair is one hundred years old.
"Where are the young people?" the McCain pollwatcher says.
"I don't know." I watch the older crowd of voters. These voters have come prepared. They've done their part. I feel I need to do mine.
By 6:30 PM the McCain pollwatcher leaves. I stay. The last voter leaves by 8 PM. The poll had closed at 6:00. I observe the running of the totals tape and the packing and sealing of the ballots in four plastic cases, which are then loaded onto a rented truck. I get my car and follow the truck a few blocks to a warehouse. By 9:00 PM I watch the unloading of the ballots.
On my way home I realize this is the most tedious and important job I've done in my entire life.