A Sweet, Subdued Victory
2012 was very different from 2008, but in many ways, just as satisfying. I was grateful that I worked a 20-hour day in an environment where politics was not allowed. I didn't have all day to bite my nails. I was too busy helping to get the last-minute voters who came to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections on Election Day processed and out the door. Despite the fact that everyone who comes to the BoE on Election Day has to vote provisional when they can just go to their precinct polling place and vote a regular ballot, over 1,500 people chose to vote at the BoE.
That included people who lived on the block between the BoE and Trinity Commons, which was their precinct polling place. One young man who lived midway between the two buildings complained he didn't have transportation to Trinity!
We kept normal polling place hours — 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. — and after we closed and cleaned up, we started talking about going to Li Wah for dinner before heading to the BoE warehouse for a long night of checking in ballot bags from polling places.
Unfortunately for me, I got kidnapped by the outside voting crew which had a Republican whose Democratic partner had bailed on her. They still had people in hospitals who needed to vote. Patients can still vote after the polls close, whenever someone can get to them. One of the things that amazed me, among all the complaints about this one or that one not getting their ballot, is how hard this team worked for weeks, going to jails, nursing homes and hospitals, making sure those who couldn't get out still got to vote.
We headed first to Lutheran in Ohio City and then all the way out to St. John's near Crocker Park where we knocked on the door of a dark room and when we said we were from the board of elections, the woman turned on the lights and greeted us eagerly, saying she had been waiting to vote. All of the patients we visited were so grateful we came. It was a gratifying experience that made you realize how significant a single vote can be.
When we got back to the BoE at 10:30, I headed over to the warehouse to join the crew there, dumping both voted and unvoted ballots into boxes for storage. It was an insular world, with no election returns scrolling down monitors, maybe the only place where people weren't following election results with bated breath.
About 11:30, I heard someone call my name and saw a woman I didn't know standing a few tables away, pointing to a woman I had worked with for the past five weeks, exchanging information about the campaign under our breaths. Zsmara flashed me a big grin and a thumbs-ups. I knew then Obama had won.
I was one of the last out as we were winding up at about 2:45 a.m. I didn't know anything other than that Obama had won (and I was pretty confident about Sherrod too, since for a lot of reasons I knew he'd win if Obama did). And I was too tired to go online and check results when I got home. The good and bad news could wait until the next day.