One vote | Front Porch | Indy Week
Pin It

One vote 

Ella Louise was the last voter on my list Tuesday evening, and I'd been going all day. When I called to let her know that I was on my way, she sounded ready to go. "No one's come for us yet!" It was time to vote.

A man was standing in her front yard. He looked old—waist-bent, grey-bearded, wearing a baseball cap. After he helped the 88-year-old Ella into my back seat, we set off for the address that I'd been given for their polling station. We began the conversations of strangers: lovely day, have you lived here long, where are your roots, what is your line of work? Ella, turns out, is a native of Mount Olive, one of 16 children, a longtime resident of Brooklyn, a home health-care worker and, as of about a year ago, a retiree to Garner.

After a few miles, she wondered if this didn't feel like a long way to the precinct. "In Mount Olive," Ella said, "I always voted just down the road."

Eventually, I pulled into a curbside voting slot, thinking it would be the most convenient for Ella. A man offered an overly long explanation of the state's curbside rules and asked Ella to fill out a form with her name, address and signature. She'd brought the wrong glasses, so this took some time. When she finished, we resumed chitchatting as the poll worker exchanged the forms for ballots.

"How long have the two of you been married?" I asked.

There was a polite sniff in the back. Finally, Randolph replied, no trace of politeness in his voice: "That's my Mama."

I withered.

I stammered.

"I've been screwing up all day, y'all," I offered. "I called a woman John because it said 'John' on my sheet, and she had a very low voice. I think maybe I should just stop talking today."

"Maybe so," Randolph said, gruff.

After I'd heard a lot from sweet Ella about her 16 brothers and sisters, the untimely death of her daughter, the bounties of the farm in Mt. Olive and so on, the worker returned to say there was no record of either voter at his precinct. Creech Road was where Randolph was registered, but there was no proof that Ella was registered anywhere in Raleigh. She protested.

"I've always voted in Mt. Olive," she said. "Before that, New York. They can call any one of those places and know I'm a registered voter. I've been voting for—I don't know how long I've been voting for."

It started to get dark. Randolph yawned. Ella seemed overwhelmed. Creech Road didn't help. It was packed. I made two circles around and said, "I think you may want to go inside if you can manage it."

Ella was going to have to fill out a provisional ballot, and this would take time. I helped them in and, 30 minutes later, returned. Ella had just finished filling out the information portion of her provisional ballot.

I was supposed to be at rehearsal in 20 minutes, and I was starving. But mostly, I worried about Ella. She'd complained about her knee hurting, and at some point, she'd have to stand in a line. I went in to check again. They were in line and OK, they said—a pat from Ella, something friendlier than a growl from Randolph.

I moved the car to the curb. They emerged at 7:15 p.m., exactly two and a half hours after I'd picked them up.

"Did you get to vote, Ms. Moore?" I asked.

"Yes, I sure did," she said.

Again, Randolph yawned loudly.

I was eager to get these good, tired and insulted folks back home. I would grab a sandwich, head to rehearsal and try to feel better about my day. And then, when I made a left turn, I realized just how dark it had become: Flick. Flick. Flick. No headlights. No streetlights. I found a driveway and parked.

The owner of the house was kind, and my husband, Skillet, came to the rescue after an endless and awkward wait. Ella and Randolph squeezed into his small pickup, and I limped home with hazard lights, tailgating him while praying against cops.

But Ms. Ella had voted. She would help Hagan beat Tillis. I guess that's something else I got wrong on Tuesday.

Latest in Front Porch

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Front Porch

  • Box of one

    Was I paying to be helped or to feel important, a bona fide expert on only myself?
    • Sep 24, 2014
  • The Old South (Hills)

    The Old South (Hills)

    • Sep 17, 2014
  • More »


Twitter Activity

Most Recent Comments

'Anna Lee' is a truly beautiful song, Ms Dossett. And I love Levon Helm's rendition. You are blessed with a …

by Byron Miller on A song for Levon (Front Porch)

Just now seeing this....Liz and I were super close friends in the early 80s. She was so special. I had …

by RoBert 1 on In memoriam: Liz Holm, 1959–2013 (Front Porch)

Nobody will be surprised to learn that Hocutt never went to Nam. He was in the Navy but washed out …

by Jefflenter on Raleigh bad boy no more (Front Porch)

I see his concern. Yes, it was a well written story and showed his caring side for sure. But not …

by Linda Bates Terrell on Motorcycle men (Front Porch)

Follow-up to my "nervous mom" comment. The last coupe of weeks we have been in many situations with individuals that …

by paulapowers on Governor's School blues (Front Porch)

Comments

'Anna Lee' is a truly beautiful song, Ms Dossett. And I love Levon Helm's rendition. You are blessed with a …

by Byron Miller on A song for Levon (Front Porch)

Just now seeing this....Liz and I were super close friends in the early 80s. She was so special. I had …

by RoBert 1 on In memoriam: Liz Holm, 1959–2013 (Front Porch)

Most Read

  1. Recounting Him Out (Peripheral Visions)
  2. Safe Spaces (Letters to the Editor)

© 2016 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation