Today a bunch of people in the United States of America will stand in line for a while, fill in a selection of bubbles on some sheets of paper, and hand those sheets to someone whose job it is to make sure the bubbles are counted. This is how we decide stuff in this country. If you’ve been following all that’s been written and said about the men whose names are next to the little bubbles, there is a lot of emotion and thought going into the process of marking up your ballot—doing your infinitesimal part to elect the leader of the country can be exciting, alarming, humbling, depressing, and anticlimactic all at once. Sort of like Christmas morning, if instead of presents under the tree, there were a bunch of your father’s jock straps, and they were on fire (I don’t know, guys, work with me on this one). To see how the population felt on this most democratic of days, we did a sort of emotional exit poll outside of the polling station nearest our office to see how voters were holding up.
Ren, hairstylist and makeup artist: I'm excited, and I am feeling positive. Except the fact that there are a lot of people in a lot of places that aren’t able to vote today, so it is a little sad. I watched the news this morning and saw a lot about polls not working and people being displaced by the hurricane. But I am still feeling positive for the most part.
Jim, social worker: I feel glad that it’s over. I think a lot of time has been wasted with unnecessary insults, and there wasn’t really much talk about the real issues.
What do you think the real issues are?
Number one is the economy and jobs.
Are you ready for the results?
I was undecided for a long time. I’ll be happy with either person winning.
Paul, student: Pretty confident. A lot of people showed up, which is surprising. This is my first election, so it was a unique experience.
Are you ready for this election to be over?
Yeah, I’m tired of all the Facebook posts.
Christine, retired: I’m glad its here, and that it’s almost over. It was pretty crowded inside for this neighborhood; usually I am the only one in there. I see more hipsters, younger people voting, which I haven’t seen much of in the past. Usually it’s just me, my mother, and a few other old people. One line was going out the door.
What was the most memorable moment of the campaign for you?
The little girl who talked about “Bronco Brama” and Mitt Romney. There were too many negative ads on TV.
Pete, writer: Apprehensive.
I am afraid the Republicans will seize control of Congress and the presidency.
What do you think will happen if the Republicans win?
I think things will get even worse in this country. Everything from public radio and public television to a woman’s right to choose, help for people that need food stamps, and Medicare. Just general bad Republican things.
Adam, reporter: I’m feeling pretty good, I just voted.
Are you ready for all the campaigning to be over?
I don’t know. I am a little disappointed in the general tone of the race. I felt like the most pressing issues facing the country weren’t addressed.
What do you consider the pressing issues?
Climate change, foreign policy, and financial reform. I felt like the whole campaign was a lot of small, snarky, “He said this, you didn’t build that” sound bites and punditry.
Kate, looking for work: I’ll be anxious until tonight. I just got out of voting.
What do you think will change if Obama is reelected?
I actually think a lot is not going to change. What is good is what won’t change, like abortion rights and health care. I think Mitt Romney would be a disaster. But in terms of economics, it is going to take some time to get out of the mess Bush got us into.
Sybil, landscape architect: I feel great. I just got out of voting.
What do you think the result will be?
I think Obama will win.
Why did you vote for him?
I grew up in a foreign country, and I believe he has more concern for foreign countries. I have been a Democrat all my life, too.
Jake, writer: I think Obama is going to take it.
What was your favorite part of the campaign?
Probably the Democratic Convention when Bill Clinton spoke. He made a really good point that no president—not him, not Bush, not Romney—could undo the damage of the last eight years Obama inherited. That was a really powerful statement, and I think that is why I voted for Obama.
Are you ready for the election to be over?
Yes, absolutely. There was a billion dollars spent on campaign advertising. That money could have been used to help people, it could have done a lot of good. Instead it was just used to slander the candidates, which I thought was disgraceful.
Rosanne, artist: I’m feeling very positive today. I am voting for Obama.
Have you been set on voting for him for a while?
Forever. I love him. I love everything he does. I think he is the best of what America has to offer. I think the Republicans are the worst.
What do you think would happen if Mitt Romney were elected?
Oh my, there certainly wouldn’t be more jobs—there’d be no healthcare, the rich would pay fewer taxes, and we would be stuck where we are. It would be a no-win situation, that’s my feeling.
Jason, dog walker: I am feeling a little indifferent about it.
I mean, it’s hard to be happy with either side, though of course I would like Obama to be reelected. The greater of the two choices, I guess. I was just beat down by the whole sideshow feeling of campaigning.
Are you excited for it to be over?