I voted today. I had too. I'm working at a college and it's closed on Election Day, so someone has to be there as we are using it as a polling place, so I"ll be there from 7AM to 7PM. It's not so bad, I get paid overtime and I can work on my novel, as my office is next to the room that is being used as a polling place. Sweet. Anyway, like I said, I voted today and three things surprised me when I did. Remember these are just observations that I am writing about. They don't necessarily mean anything.
The first thing I noticed was that I had to wait in line for over a half-hour. I live in Greenville SC, and I couldn't believe the voter turn-out for mid-term elections. I was tod by a woman at the polling place that most people in Greenville voted early, and that a minority would be voting on election day. Here in South Carolina you must state a reason why you are voting early, a job, a vacation, whatever but you must have a reason. Apparently South Carolinians are pretty busy people.
The second thing I noticed were the amendments to the State Constitution they were voting on. They had them on the wall so that voter could familiarize themselves with the issues. I regretfully must state that I am new to South Carolina having just moved here in March. Not only that, but I have been focused on the national elections and I really didn't take too much time to study the issues facing my state. I wasn't worried, they were simple and to the point (at least the two I voted on). One was Eminent Domain. Many communities around the country are seeing area's and neighborhood's being swallowed up by different governmental entities IE: City, State or County governments, and condemning land that could be better used to build a mall, or a high-rise condo, or something other that what it is now, and using the excuse that the taking of the land under Eminent Domain, would be in the best interests of the community. Reasons are used such as it would bring more business into an area, that it would bring up the tax base to have high rise condos in an area that now only houses five or ten families, etc. It is a way to force people off lands that may not want to sell. This amendment in South Carolina stops this unless the land in question has fallen into a state of squalor and needs to be condemned by appropriate law. I thought that was a very progressive amendment in the largely Republican State.
Another amendment was that a marriage should be defined as between a man and a woman. If you vote YES then you agree that gay marriage are not tolerated. If you vote no, then if there is no other law to stop them, then they can get married. I voted no. In my mind. If somebody wants to marry their same-sex lover, than it's their business, not the State's. If they are doing it just to get health benefits as some people that oppose the law claim, than we should have national health insurance so that marrying your friend wouldn't be necessary. There are other reasons, but I don't want to write a tome here.
The third thing that I noticed was the absence of African-Americans in the line, or the parking lot, or anywhere near the polling place. I saw many young people (which made me happy) but I did not see any African-Americans. I was also told by the lady who signed me in that I was the only one from my particular neighborhood (Which id predominately African-American) that she had seen vote. That really upset me. I know that what I saw might have been a fluke, maybe many people of color voted and I just didn't arrive at the right time, but Greenville South Carolina has a big African-American population, and it was odd. If they truly didn't vote because they feel disenfranchised, than not voting is the surest way to make that become a reality. I was upset because many African-Americans vote Democrat, I know that there are some who are Republican (Why? I don't know). If it really is the case that they didn't vote in this election, than I think that the next election should concentrate on getting out the vote in communities such as the one I live in. People ask me why since I'm white, why I live in the neighborhood that I do. I happen to really like my neighborhood. It is clean and I have nice families on my block and it's quiet. I also don't look at the color of anyone's skin to determine their worth.
So that was my voting day. I hope that some people will get something from what I've written here. I will be at another polling place on election day, and I will see if it was a fluke that many African-Americans did not vote or if is a reality. I sincerely hope that this is not the norm in other states. Voting to me is something sacred, something that should be cherished. Every vote counts, especially in this election.