Business demanded that I take a grueling one day 10 hour drive from Fort Worth, to Corsicana, to Huntsville, to Livingston (just north of Houston), and then back through the heart of Texas to Ft. Worth. At every stop, I checked the early voting booths, interviewed people and took some photos. (the picture shows: Early voting in Livingston, Texas courthouse)
People were lined up at every town, to vote. In Livingston, George Bigler, the security officer for the Polk County Courthouse said: "We have had people lined up to vote everyday. Sometimes they line up clear out of the building and into the courthouse lawn. I've never seen anything like it?" I asked him who the people were voting for. "It is even. 50/50. Some for Kerry, want change because of Bush's lies. Some want Bush because of our boys in Iraq." He said. In Houston, reports are that early voting is 300% higher than it has ever been. In Fort Worth, at the Como Elementary, the line went down the hall of the school. One lady who asked for anonimity said: "I am so irritated with what is going on, I just couldn't wait until Election Day." The cars in the parking lot showed a lot of Kerry Bumper stickers, but Bush stickers as well.
The story is the same throughout Texas. Early voting is at the highest level in history. The same is true throughout the nation, with reports in Florida, Ohio, Michigan, New York, California, Arkansas, pouring in, that early voting is at historic highs.
An elderly lady, a poll watcher who has been involved in many elections came up to me and said: "I believe the reason is that with the elections last time so close, and this election appears to be close, people believe that every vote counts.that their vote really can make a difference, that is why they are voting early." As she said that she was putting little red white and blue stickers on the collars of people saying: "I VOTED!"
As I watched, people seemed to take great pride in voting. They were smiling as they left, sporting their little stickers. I was proud and pleased, and couldn't wait to call someone and say "I voted".
America has great divisions this year. Consider the divisions: Cultural divisions and economic divisions. Powerful interest groups have spent millions. But a redeeming characteristic of America is that Americans still vote. We still believe in Democracy. We are watching to see if the politicians allow democracy to happen and to see if they allow every vote to be counted, and every vote to count. Rumors are that millions of dollars has already been spent on lawyers to challenge the election if it doesn't go the way some powerful people want. If either party tries to buy this election, or get a free ride through the ruling of a politically appointed judge, it could be the beginning of the end of Democracy. All of us, who have voted, challenge the powerful to allow all of our votes to count. Let democracy rule. We are watching. The world is watching.