Section Chair's Column: Democracy in Action
By David L.Douglass,Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P., Washington, DC
In the aftermath of Tuesday’s election results one television pundit sighed, “Well, at least it’s over.” She continued on to observe (and I am paraphrasing), “that regardless of which presidential candidate anyone supported, no one really felt good about this campaign.” It does seem that the nation has uttered a collective sigh of relief that regardless of your party or candidate the election of 2012 has the virtue of being history. I can understand that sentiment, but it is not the only way to view the campaign.
I spent Election Day at a Virginia precinct. (I won’t disclose on which candidate’s behalf I was working to avoid offending potentially 49% of you). I arrived at my precinct at 5:30 am. It was dark and cold. I stood outside the precinct answering voter questions until 7:30 pm, when the last voter voted. I watched people wait in line for up to ninety minutes without complaint to cast their ballot. They passed the time by greeting friends, chatting with the person next to them, entertaining their kids, and, yes, calling work to say they’d be late. There was plenty of small talk and banter. (The one thing we didn’t discuss? Politics). After voting, they left the polling place wearing their “I voted” stickers. Their kids wore “future voter” stickers. They hurried to their cars, many glancing at their watches to see just how late they were in getting back to their routine. The electorate may be divided but I didn’t see a divided community. I saw a community that came together, gladly, to fulfill and preserve a civic duty and tradition that is important and valued. In other words, I spent election day watching democracy in action. It was a day I will remember and cherish.
Late in the morning, one of the election officials came outside. He took in the long line, and as he turned to go back inside he stopped next to me and observed, “You know, people complained a lot about this campaign and all of the negative ads but they at least got us this,” referring to the line of voters. “They’re here because they know they have to make a choice. We should have turnout like this for every election, regardless of at what level.” He then continued on inside to consider performing his part in the democratic process. I can endorse his sentiment as well. I am glad the campaign is over but I am just as surely glad we had it.
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