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Maryam, from Tucson, AZ, writes:
"Did you hear the story about the American Muslim who walked into her polling place at a LDS church in Tucson, Arizona?"
Well, the story goes like this: She voted, or I should say, I voted. And it was awesome. Usually my polling station has voting booths set up in the lobby of the church. Not this time. The gym area was opened up for this historical national vote to house more polling booths.
While there are far more populated areas across the nation with much larger precincts, with so many more voters, still, it was a lovely site.
The day broke like any other in the southwestern desert; with the sun rising over the dusty Rincon mountains amid a faint murmur of cacti needles dropping to the desert floor. A clear indication that fall had arrived. I felt that euphoria of cooling weather, finally, after months of an intense dry desert heat, a heat that matched the past two years leading up to this election day of 2008.
I live in a quiet, middle class neighborhood on the far east side of town. In elections past, I have witnessed a moderate amount of voters. This election appeared different. I waited in line after seven a.m. with my fellow Americans to cast my vote. The line snaked outside of the building onto the sidewalk flush with the bright blue desert sky.
A young family was in front of me, with their two children joining in their parents civic duty. Directly behind me was a middle aged gentleman with his college aged daughter. Those who finished voting passed us by. They were the young, middle-aged, old, hispanic, black, asian, and white from our neighborhood, a salad bowl of the best that personifies America.
And me. An Irish American Muslim convert enjoying the wait to cast my vote. My mid 20's aged daughter had beat me to the polls. She had worked the night shift and came directly from work to vote right after the polls opened at six a.m. Her fifteen year old sister had told her the day before how jealous she was in not getting to vote this election. Now that's a unique take on sibling rivalry.
The line of voters steadily progressed into the lobby of the church. Soon after I arrived a polling volunteer asked for those with last names beginning with M to Z to form a shorter line. I joined in.
As I waited, polling volunteers would call out, "First time voter here!!" Many of us joined in the applause of support and wooohooooed to our hearts content.
Once it was my turn to show my ID, I was directed to another line, for those who had requested early ballots. I had done so but did not find the time to fill it out and mail it in.
So, there I was anxioulsy anticipating my turn to vote.
I voted and then was given a preforated voting receipt taken from my ballot. I was told to call the number listed on my receipt in a few days to ensure my vote had been counted.
Next, I was instructed where to add my ballot into a bin for others like me, who had not been able to cast their early ballot but joyfully voted in person. As I pushed my ballot in the slot, I could feel mine push up against a heavy stack of previous ballots.
How great is that? Totally great, I believe.
After stuffing my ballot into the bin, I thanked the polling volunteers for their work. It was only eight a.m. They had a long, glorious day ahead of them.
As I walked to my car I noticed the line had shortened but was still outside of the building. I guessed it would ebb and flow like what I experienced earlier, all day, until the polls closed at seven p.m.
I was not surprised by the upbeat and organized functioning from the volunteers. They were a fine group of folks, adding to the positive tone of election day in Tucson.
I was not surprised by the diversity of voter turn out either. It is a fact cemented in our greatness as a nation, a nation of variations of peoples participating in their civic duty in voting, on this, our election day, November 4th, 2008.
Blessings to one and all on this beautiful occasion.
(P.S....psst, Tucson is blue. If anyone tells you otherwise, don't believe 'em.)
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