Election cycles

Half the chairs in the borough council chambers are gone, and voting booths line the wall.

I sit in one of the remaining hard folding chairs, scanning the faces around me: reporters from small weekly or online publications; maintenance staff; councilmembers.

There will be no public comments today, and that should shave a good 15 to 30 minutes off the meeting.

I’m glad.

We stand for the Pledge of Allegiance and he leads it loudly, boisterously almost. I’m supposed to be looking at the flag there in a corner of the room; but in the 15 seconds it takes to recite this pledge I’ve known since childhood, my eyes have wandered around to the flimsy plastic booths, waiting for Tuesday.

In the frosty morning, hurrying through the parking lot because I’m almost late, like usual, I see a man I recognize from campaign events standing outside the courthouse, smoking a cigarette in a wool trench coat.

Our paper prints pictures of the DA candidates voting; I think the one wears the same shirt-and-tie in every picture we run of him.

The chilly morning has given way to a bright, sunny afternoon when I finally leave work, and I deviate from my normal route.

My polling place is in the fellowship hall of an old church, one that looks a bit like a fortress and stands perfectly between the office, and home. I’ll stop by.

Campaign signs have filled the grass between the sidewalk and the street, but no one is handing out materials and I’m glad.

The woman at the desk takes as much time to find my name on her list as I do to fill in the circles on the ballot the next woman finally hands me.

Fill in the circles, tear off the stubs, hear the machine churn as it pulls it in to itself.

I’m back out into the sunshine in minutes, slightly aggrieved not to have been given a sticker. I guess we don’t do the “I voted” stickers any more.

Tonight I go to another council meeting, and try to guess the length of the meeting by the faces I see, and this is where I see elections a little differently, I think, than other voters.

Yesterday I filed my ballot; today I watch men and women fill their elected positions, write about the decisions they make or the things – foolish or wise – they say.

And another election cycle has come and gone.


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