Holiday mood in US despite long election lines

November 5th, 2008 - 2:46 am ICT by IANS  

Rockville, Nov 5 (DPA) Voters came out in droves Tuesday to wait hours outdoors in mild autumn temperatures to participate in the historic election that could produce the first African American president in US history.”It’s quite amazing. Regardless of the outcome, the fact that an African American can get to this point, when 40 years ago they had to use separate bathrooms, water fountains, schools, libraries - this is amazing,” said Vivian Freed, 63, who waited outside the Julius West Middle School in Rockville, 32 km north of the nation’s capital.

Voters, including immigrants from Vietnam and Russia, waited up to an hour and a half in line. There were more young people than older residents could ever recall seeing at an election - a testament to Obama’s massive mobilization of the nation’s youth.

A holiday-like atmosphere prevailed as people moved up and down the queue to catch up with neighbours and discuss the elections.

People looked at their watches and shrugged about being late for work. They then started planning to go out afterwards and use the “I voted” stickers handed out by poll workers for free food and drink offered by Starbucks, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and other shops.

Vinny Clements, a tall, lanky 25-year-old engineer, planned to vote for Obama over Republican John McCain, even though he was “not proud to say” he voted for US President George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004.

He objected to McCain’s “shortsighted” choice of Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, to McCain’s trying to “ride to the rescue” during the Congressional debate over the $700-billion bailout and to how the wealthy had prospered with tax cuts under Bush.

He dismissed McCain’s attempts to paint Obama as a “socialist” for wanting to remove temporary tax cuts for the wealthy.

“I believe (Obama) has Main Street at heart,” said Clements, who added that Obama’s online tax calculator showed he could even benefit “a little” from proposed middle class tax cuts.

Quang Thai, 65, a Vietnamese-Chinese immigrant businessman, planned to vote for Obama because “the economy’s so bad”.

“At least he’s young. That’s important, he has more energy. When you’re old, you don’t want to think any more,” he said. His wife planned to vote for McCain, but wouldn’t say why.

Dustin Hoffman (no, not the Academy Award-winning actor) was voting for the first time in his life - to cancel out his significant other’s vote. The 29-year-old, who works in the hospitality construction business, said he was excited by “two great nominees. You can’t go wrong with either of them.”

Sergey Rivin, 23, a computer system administrator and Russian immigrant, was not particularly enthusiastic about either Obama or McCain, but was determined to make use of his right to vote. He felt Russia’s direct election system was better than the US indirect electoral college system.

Sanjay Gupta, 30, who works for Marriott Corporation, was committed to Obama. But he was realistic about the problems and “messed up world” Obama would face as president. “It will take more than a year for him to change what is wrong,” he said.

His sister, Anjeli Gupta, 27, was a registered Republican who had voted for Bush in 2000 but planned to vote for Obama. Her friend, Steven Low, 26, who works for a pool servicing company and had voted for the first time in his life four hours earlier at a different station, put his Obama choice forcefully.

“I’m very very tired of Republicans. I want the evangelicals to get out of government,” Low said.

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