The Day Has Finally Arrived; Voters Face Long Lines at Polls

By David Cruz

After months and months of campaigning, with primaries and caucuses and debates and gaffes and scandal, the day has finally arrived. If this election weren’t so potentially historic, headlines tomorrow might be about how long people had to wait to get to the voting booth. Lines were long and, in many cases, literally out the door. Even the mayor waited.

“The one issue we’ve seen today in Jersey City is complaints about long lines, which is great considering the fact that you’ve had such a contentious election and you’d think that a lot of people were disenfranchised,” said Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop. “I’m happy that people still came out. While you don’t want to see people wait on line, it’s still nice to know, even though it’s been an ugly and nasty election that nobody liked.”

Suki Valentine and her husband were also on line. “I will be happy when this part is over but I think anyone that thinks that at the closing of the polls tonight that everything is going to be magically healed, is greatly mistaken,” she said.

There is enthusiasm here at PS 28, where the line has been long since the polls opened at 6 a.m. After all, voters here had to wade through federal, state, county and local board of ed contests as well as two state public questions and two more local questions. We found anxiety here, too. Jennifer Krause Chapeau voted earlier but was here to make sure her friend voted, too.

“Nervous, actually, is how I’m feeling,” said Chapeau, adding that her nervousness was a mix of fear that her candidate will lose and for what happens afterward. “Maybe what’s going to happen after. Maybe it’s just the emotion of the moment and the people.”

After nearly two years of rancor and discord, it’s heartening to finally see the process of voting begin, peacefully. Downtown, there were more positive signs of a healthy democracy as neighbors helped neighbors and poll workers went the extra mile for the uninitiated. For some, though, the process had a bit of a hold your nose and pull the lever quality to it.

Diane Colon and Elaine Thomas were part of a long line outside Grace Church on Erie Street.

“You don’t know which way to go,” said Colon, “because neither of them has inspired me.”

Thomas said, “When you hear kids saying, ‘They’re bad; both of them are bad,’ kids, OK, it’s really bad, but what are you going to do? You got to vote. We got to make a difference.”

But both said they were a little comforted by the fact that there were so many people voting.

Even in the midst of all the uncertainty, though, we still found hopeful signs that this Election Day, too, shall pass and that, regardless of who wins or loses, our democracy might still be standing tomorrow.