We heard a lot on Election Day about crowds of voters waiting in long lines before polling places even opened. There are the first voters....and then there are the last voters. NHPR’s Sean Hurley spoke to three voters who just barely made it in before the polls closed in Plymouth.
It’s 6:59 p.m. and one minute to go before the polls close. Moderator Bob Clay makes a final check outside the Plymouth Elementary School doors to make sure there’s no one else lurking about who wants to vote – and then he calls it.
“Those of you that are in the voting process you're allowed to continue,” Clay says as he strides across the gymnasium. “There will be no new voters allowed in. I declare the polls closed! Ladies and gentlemen, you did an amazing job. Thank you so much!”
As the last three voters sit down with their ballots, I head outside to wait for them to complete their civic duty.
The first of the final three to turn her ballot in is a Plymouth State University student named Precious Rodriguez.
“I just voted, wooo!” Rodriguez sings out triumphantly.
“It is my given right to vote. My mother, when she became a citizen, she was so excited the first time she voted. So I had to do it. I had to do it. And I voted. Wooo! This is my first time voting, yes!!! And if it weren't for these people right here?” Rodriguez points out her three friends, “These amazing people right here and him who couldn't fix a tire? I would not be here right now if this guy would have fixed the tire. Cause it was flat.”
I do try to extract the story of the flat tire – and how Precious’s friend could not fix it – and so perhaps it is still flat - and how this unfixed flat tire became the crucial element which finally ensured that Precious Rodriguez got to vote. But Precious is too excited, because guess who’s coming out the door?
“You're the last voter!” she cries out, “Congratulations!”
The last voter at the Plymouth Polls is 20-year-old PSU sophomore Toby Delva.
“I feel like, amazing,” Delva says. And not just because he voted for the first time ever, but because he – and his friend Emma Clark, also 20, also a sophomore at PSU, and the second to last voter - barely made it in time.
“First we went all the way to Massachusetts,” Delva says, “'cause I thought we had to vote in Massachusetts. But then come to find out you have to vote from your home. So me and Emma flew back up and we made it just in time and I was able to cast my vote.”
“You actually flew?” I ask. But no. They didn’t fly. They just drove fast. Apparently this evening I cannot understand modes of travel. Airplanes, flat tires, etc.
But Toby Delva and Emma Clark explain their confusing trip to Salem, Massachusetts.
“I'm originally from Massachusetts so I thought you had to vote from anywhere in Massachusetts,” he says. “Then we got to Salem. Then Emma's from New Hampshire and she tried to vote in Salem and they were like, no.”
To which Clark adds, “Yeah, my roommate, I called her and I was like ‘They didn't let me vote in Salem.’ And she was like, ‘Well, my friend from Massachusetts just voted in Plymouth. So you can go vote there.’ But I thought you had to be a resident here because they told me I had to be a resident there.
As college students, they are residents….and it became quite clear once they finally arrived at the Plymouth polls.
Phew. A confusing day for all of us. But there’s one thing that’s true and won’t change: we all voted.