Tom voted

I took today off from work. I’ve tried to stay offline as much as possible, because the overload of election news might make my head explode. I will watch the results – however preliminary they are – this evening. But during the day I’ve been avoiding the election, with one significant exception, of course.

I’ve moved my regular road bike (my six-year-old Trek 7.2 FX) indoors onto a new smart trainer, but I want to be able to ride outside when the weather permits this late fall and into the winter. Today is a beautiful day in southeastern Michigan with a temperature around 50F and clear, sunny skies, so I thought today would be a good day to get my old Schwinn Frontier mountain bike ready and ride it to the polls. It didn’t take much work, it’s been inside most of the last few years so the tires are good, just needed some air. A little chain lubricant and a check of the brakes and it was good to go.

So I rode off to vote. In Marine City, voting takes place at the fire hall, which is about a mile away. When I arrived, I was surprised to see a line outside of the building at about 10:30 a.m. Not completely surprised, because voter engagement in this election is amazingly high, but somewhat surprised because in 25 years of living here, I’ve never seen a line to vote. Maybe a short line inside, one or two people, but nothing like this.

I locked my bike and joined the line. People were very friendly, even the folks who were complaining about Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the masks they were having to wear, and the “overreaction” to the coronavirus, which is, after all, “just a mild sinus infection.” The woman in front of me in line was wearing medical scrubs and she never turned around but just shook her head slowly as the infectious disease experts around us continued to explain how COVID isn’t serious, despite two of them knowing someone who’d gotten very ill from it, including one person on a ventilator, and that they didn’t want to get it themselves.

Voting itself was quick and efficient. Kudos to the poll workers, who seemed to be very prepared for today’s vote, as they always are. That’s one of the reassuring things for me: even though the city and township clerks who actually run America’s elections may lean toward a political party or have conservative or liberal beliefs, in the end nearly all of them will run an honest election with no tricks, despite pressure from the national and state party organizations to do so. When they say “all politics is local,” this is a manifestation of that. These people live in the towns they serve, and if something goes wrong, they’ll have to face their neighbors for years afterward. So I’m not worried about widespread nonsense at the polls.

After voting, I got back on the Schwinn and took it on a longer test ride around town, logging just over ten miles on it. It still has a nice ride. I put slicker tires on it a few years ago, replacing the nubby mountain bike tires, so it moves along pretty well despite having a fairly heavy frame. I suppose it helps that I’m putting about 40 or 50 fewer pounds on that frame.

Take a deep breath and try to relax if you can. Whether you voted early or in-person, it’s out of our control now. We’ve done what we needed to do; next it’s up to the counters to do their jobs.