Walk right up

Published 11:11 pm Tuesday, May 8, 2012

It’s not that the atmosphere is festive. In fact, the mood can swing from rather brooding to jubilant down at the Board of Elections on the night the votes come pouring in. The numbers roll off Board of Elections Chairman Tom Payne’s tongue as he calls out tally after tally, precinct after precinct. Candidates, supporters, concerned citizens, come and go freely, holding up the wall for a moment or two, heading back out again.

If politics is a circus, the Board of Elections is its big-top tent, confining the spectacle of voting to a single moment in time where all eyes are glued to center stage. And at center stage are the numbers. They march across a projected screen, larger than life, growing larger with each passing moment. The process is mesmerizing because before your eyes the separation between the voter’s booth and the vote disintegrates. One vote equals one individual. There, if you voted and if you’re paying attention, you can hear your vote as it gets called and watch it join the tally on the big screen — a tiny part of a much larger picture.

But no matter how tiny the part, that vote is nonetheless important. A single vote can win a primary or lose an election and nowhere is that more apparent than the Board of Elections.

Drop in for a few minutes this coming November. Take participation just a step further and see where your vote goes.