Monday, February 9, 2009

A Historic Day!

This is a retro blog post... I started this Election Day, but never had a chance to finish. Given that the Inauguration has already come and gone and the pundits are counting down Obama's first 100 days, I think I should finish it...

I love election day! I've voted every time since I turned 18, be it in person or via absentee ballot. There's something so exciting about making your choices and then pressing the button (or pulling the lever) to VOTE!

I don't remember where I read this, but it's always stuck with me - of all the principles of a democracy, the most basic and simple one is the ability to cast a vote. If you can't even do that, what's the point of a democracy? And given all of the people around the world (I don't have a percentage, but it seems like a significant number) who don't get a chance to ever a cast a vote or cast one without fear of violence - it's a pretty amazing opportunity.

I've never voted in NYC before so I wasn't sure what to expect. I've only ever voted in suburban Virginia at the local middle school. There were never any lines and you just drive up, walk in, check your name off and go vote.

New York City ("New York City!") was definitely overwhelming. I walked up 2 blocks to our voting center (the local high school) , turned the corner toward the entrance, and saw this...

Well, technically not this exact view since I took the picture after I got in line, but basically the line stretched across one city block (east to west) and was turning the corner down the next avenue right after I got in line.

Another shot of everyone waiting in line. No one was stressed out about the wait. People were chatting with each other and I listened to a mom behind me explain voting to her little 3/4 year daughter. At one point we passed the "No campaigning beyond this point" sign and sure enough, in front of the sign were a couple of candidates, talking to people.

Inside the voting booth. It's one of the old school versions where you flick the switch of everyone you want to vote for and then there's a long lever at the bottom that you pull to count your vote. The nice old gentleman who was volunteering outside my booth kept asking me if everything was okay. It was, it just took a bit to get my camera out to take the picture!

After getting to work, my co-workers and I organized a betting pool for the election. Our boss, who is Australian, can't vote, but was following the election closely, and wanted to do something involved with the election.

We decided to do a series of bets based on the swing states. Everyone had to call each swing state for McCain or Obama and the tie breaker would be the percentage (at first, just the whole number, but too many of us put the same number, so everyone had to go back and add a decimal guess) of the popular vote that Obama would win. We set the pool up this way so it wouldn't be about political views, but just how good everyone would be at guessing the stats.

Here's my sheet... Note we took 10 swing states and threw in a couple of extra ones, just to mix things up.

The night was a long one watching results come in. I was at FI's family's home and hanging out with his nephew, but also trying to watch CNN. I love those touchscreens!

Finally, around midnight, I got to hear McCain's concession speech and see Obama speak, which was pretty moving. I wanted to stay up longer to see more results, but I was too tired. Plus they were then onto Obama's potential Cabinet picks and I wasn't going to stay up for that. Besides, I wonder how accurate the list is now?

The next morning we went over the results of the bet, using the numbers from CNN. It got a little complicated trying to figure out the popular vote percentage because CNN wasn't counting 3rd-party results and we needed it to the tenth of a decimal point. But we managed to track down the latest vote counts and did some math to figure it out.

Turns out my friend who set up the pool won. And there was a tie for 2nd. So we split the cash for the 3 of them and then took the extra to buy bagels for everyone. A fun way to end Election Day!

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