Voter anticipation ran very high in North Minneapolis. By 7 a.m. there was a line of more than 100 people stretching out the door and down the ramp of North Point Health and Wellness Center. Everyone was happy and energetic; people cheered and clapped everyone who cast their ballot, one guy even broke out into a James Brown dance after voting.
“This is like a family reunion, I’ve met people here that I hadn’t seen in a very long time,” said Frank McCrary, a special education teacher at Transition Plus, who had been in line since 6:45 a.m. He was accompanied by his mom, dad and two younger brothers and none of them were bothered to have stood in line for more than two hours to cast their votes.
“I’ve voted here ever since I graduated from high school and have never seen this kind of turn out, this is amazing!” he exclaimed.
“My candidate is going to win, we in there,” he said. “An Obama presidency would mean a lot for the black people and for everyone, being that he is about the grassroots. Let’s bring this thing back to the people.”
By 11:30 a.m., the line had somewhat shortened and an estimated 400 people had already voted.
Just a block away at the Minneapolis Urban League (M.U.L), the lines had been longer and enthusiasm was just as high. By noon, an estimated 800 people had voted there. For 21-year old Shenathia Davis, a first time voter, this was a great experience.
“I’ve been here since 9 am and decided to vote because I want Obama to win,” she said. Davis, who is nine months pregnant, explained that an Obama presidency would mean that her son Lequ’an has a chance at being president because he can “look like president material.”
“Everyone I know has voted for him, ” she added. “He is change.”
April A. Estes and Richard C. Estes, who own the Estes Funeral Chapel next door to the M.U.L, were among the enthusiastic voters. Mr. Estes could not stand in line for long because of his health, so they voted from the curbside in their car.
“I’ve never been this excited about voting since Kennedy, but that has never prevented me from voting in the past,” said Mrs. Estes. “This time, though, I feel like my vote really, really counts because other times no matter who had the vote we (black people) never had any real representation.”
“It looks like it’s going fine, and I hope Obama goes through,” added Mr. Estes.
“We have energized everyone in the community to vote and get involved,” said Mrs. Estes. Their 16-year-old daughter took time off school and is working at one of the polling locations. “This is history for her too,” said Mrs. Estes.
Election Judge Lorraine Wilson Pittman had been at the Minneapolis Urban League before 6 a.m. and oversaw the curbside voting for Mr. and Mrs. Estes.
“We had a line from 6 a.m. and everything has been running smoothly,” she said. “A couple of people had the wrong voting locations, but we helped them find their way.”
There seemed to be incidents where people wearing Obama shirts were turned back and others who had Obama signs in their parked cars had to take them down. This was Pittman’s first year as an election judge, but she had also worked in the primaries.
Nelima Kerre lives in St. Paul and writes for Mshale and for the Twin Cities Daily Planet.