I walked to Sarah Smith Elementary to vote Tuesday. Over the 30 years I've voted there, I've always driven, parking on Land O Lakes Drive beside the school and walking up the concrete steps to the parking lot behind the school library.
This year, I thought walking would match the community spirit of voting on Election Day. I've thought about voting early, but I'm always swayed by tradition and the sense of sharing a civic ritual to vote on the first Tuesday in November.
The auditorium where the voting is held was more crowded than usual for primary or municipal elections, but there was no line. For the 2008 election, when Barack Obama defeated John McCain, the line extended into the hallway and out the door to the parking lot, where it looped two or three times. Early voting had increased during the last eight years, and had drawn a heavy turnout this year. Still, I was surprised at not having to wait.
Named for my late former neighbor Margaret Miller, who'd battled to keep the public schools open during the desegregation era, the auditorium brought back memories of years of school pageants, Christmas plays and graduation ceremonies when my children were growing up. Now, my children live in other cities, and several generations of new students have come and gone. I was surprised at seeing just one old friend. In previous elections, I'd run into several longtime neighbors.
Many of the voters were my children's age, including several young women whom I assumed would vote for Hillary Clinton rather than Donald Trump. The precinct over the years has been solidly Republican. I'll be interested to see what happens this time around, assuming the AJC still prints precinct by precinct results. That might be a high expectation for a newspaper that now waits two days to report on Georgia Bulldogs football games.
The New York Times' reprinting Tuesday of front pages from elections past drew me back to the first time I voted, in 1972 in my hometown of Baton Rouge. I voted at Glasgow School, where I'd gone to elementary and junior high. In those days, the Gret State of Louisiana used the old-fashioned voting machines with levers. The voter entered a booth with a curtain, which gave a greater sense of privacy than Georgia's current computerized stalls with their tiny walls.
A college student avoiding Vietnam, I was one of the few Louisiana citizens, and national citizens for that matter, to vote for George McGovern. I've never voted for a Republican, although I've shook my head over several of the Democrats.
Walking home, I remembered neighborhood parties and which people had lived in which houses. On Old Ivy Road, I greeted a city crew repaving the street, which intrigued me since I'd just voted for a tax increase to improve city streets. They were getting a jump on things even before the election was over.
I was again happy at the community's extensive sidewalks, thanks to the desire to make Sarah Smith a walkable neighborhood school and the efforts of our usually distant councilman.
My North Buckhead neighbors often complain about high taxes, especially if they send their children to private schools, but even they might admit that sidewalks are a good amenity for their taxes, along with the fact that the school's excellence makes the neighborhood more desirable, raising property values.
Turning on Ivy Road, I was impressed by the size of the homes and an almost completed new subdivision. The extension of Ga. 400, bitterly fought when we'd first moved into North Buckhead, turned out to have brought a boom of McMansions rather than ruining the neighborhood.
A lady walking a golden lab saw my Georgia voter sticker with its peach illustration and asked if voting had been crowded. "Not bad," I answered,
I headed home to anxiously await the evening's results.