I spent a little time Wednesday roaming the parking lot at the Hamilton County Election Commission off Amnicola Highway looking for some information and insight. And yes, a Chattanooga police officer kindly reminded me to stand behind the dotted line behind the third row of cars.
As we discussed Tuesday, real information is hard to find when it comes to this presidential election. Everything is so polarized that it's hard to know up from down. What about the ballots cast?
Sure, this is a super-small sample size in a super-small corner of the country — and in an area in which the closest thing to battleground is a Battlefield Parkway in North Georgia — but the conversations were intriguing.
I started with two questions:
> How long was your wait? (this was around noon on Wednesday.) Universally, the time fell between 40 and 45 minutes, and voter reactions were overwhelmingly positive. Heck, that's way shorter than a drive from Red Bank to Gunbarrel Road this weekend, gang.
So yeah, take a bow, election commission, because other than some unseasonable late October temperatures, the raves were rampant Wednesday.
"They have people out here helping the handicapped," said one voter, "which I think is great because my mom has two bad knees so I can tell her to come vote and they will help her."
Amen, because while the line twisting through the parking lot Wednesday looked a lot like Disney World, there is no Fast Pass to this finish line, friends. Go vote. Early voting ends on Oct. 29.
> As for the second question, I asked 25 just-finished voters whether their decision was based on voting for a candidate or voting against the other candidate.
"That's a very interesting question," Mary Catherine O'Kelley of Signal Mountain said.
She was among the 14 people who answered "Voted For" a candidate.
"I voted against [a candidate]," Brad Bond of Hixson said. "I will watch the debate [tonight] because I believe we should all be informed, but this was the best chance for me to [go vote], and that's the most important thing."
He's right, casting your ballot is your ultimate say — whether it sways the Electoral College or not.
But Brad's point about tonight's debate as early voting numbers surge reminds us of two realities:
First, there are a huge number of folks who have long since made up their minds, and one last shout-fest is not going to change that.
And second, how many of us are most interested to see how the two-minute cone of silence works for the two candidates tonight?
Contact Jay Greeson at email@example.com.