Voting day – bundle up in frigid New Jersey
NEW JERSEY, USA - I slipped out the back door of my apartment building, wearing a light-colored fall jacket. The wan sun was shielded by wispy white clouds as the temperature hovered near the freezing point of water. A slight breeze blew and I knew immediately the jacket was not enough. I began walking towards the corner. I was wearing my Boston Red Sox cap so the wet hair on my noggin would not give me a head cold.
The Golden Age Towers was about 300-400 meters away. I entered the building and was told I did not have to sign if I was voting.
There were three tables manned by a battery of senior women. They would check your name in the list and you sign after they had a look at your ID. In my case, it was my passport which arrived last night in the mail.
I signed off a second time for my ballot. I moved to the next line of about 4-5 people to wait for my electronic voting booth to open up. I handed the ballot slip, parted the curtains and stepped in.
Like the sample ballot, it showed the names of the candidates running for office.
I kind of froze for a minute to figure out how to vote. I pressed President Barack Obama’s name and a green-lighted X went up. I then pressed the name of Senator Robert Menendez and Congressman Donald Payne Jr. The same X went up.
The rest turned into a haze for me. I pressed the cast ballot button and stepped out.
Cory. Eddie. Barack (or Barry). Folks I’ve voted for President in my lifetime.
More voters streamed into Golden Towers, with several using canes or walkers. The pundits did say that those who are very good at voting are seniors. In Ward 4, District 2, they are absolutely correct. I see a sprinkling of young voters coming in.
I stepped back outside and ran into a sprightly lady named Mary.
I asked her if I could interview her and promised not to ask any embarrassing, personal questions. She laughed and I laughed along with her.
Mary used to help in election duties in Freehold, New Jersey, but opted out of this one, having “survived” cancer earlier this year.
She got through Hurricane Sandy, which struck the Garden State with devastating fury last week. Massive trees were toppled, landing on houses in a wide swathe of the state. Many are still there, awaiting removal and being turned into kindling for the winter.
“My son Neil took me to his home during the storm,” Mary said, adding his name is actually Cornelius but it has been shortened to Neil.
She said the spacious voting area in Golden Towers is actually a community room for the residents. One night a week is devoted to Bible study. There is a mass for Catholics.
“Friday night is movie night,” Mary said.
The election was going off without a hitch. A Rahway police officer dropped by, asked if there were any problems with the voting, and told there was nothing moved on.
One did not get a sniff of the pistol-packing thugs or the private armies that seem to festoon elections I used to cover. It was almost sedate. The main complaint was the cold and the approach of another storm Wednesday night that may cause the nearby Rahway river to overflow.
At the post office, a longer line formed since they only open at 10 am. One lady in line said she hopes the lights do not go out like it did last week.
At that point, a guy piped up in back: “Hey lady, come to my place. We still got no power.”
The polls in New Jersey will not close until 8 pm (9 am in Manila on Nov. 7). The results will not be known until midnight or even later.
Election night parties are being held in New York city and am off to one at the apartment of my professor, who teaches Propaganda and Media at The New School, where I am trying to complete a Masters in International Affairs.
The irony is that if Obama and the Democrats win the Presidency and the Senate, and the Republicans hang onto power in the House of Representatives, there will be no change in the status quo of power in Washington.
Now if only the lights and the television would stay on tomorrow night. I can then look forward to Thanksgiving. - Rappler.com
Rene Pastor is a freelance journalist who worked with the news agency Reuters for nearly 23 years. He is a graduate of the Ateneo de Manila University and is completing his Masters in International Affairs at the New School in New York. Rene is also a lecturer at Middlesex County College.