By George Kelly
Tuesday, February 5th, 2008 at 2:02 pm in George Kelly.
I rounded the newsroom around lunchtime to see who was in and what they were up to. Days like today, you get all kinds of oddities: staggered or split schedules, assignments to hang out at far-flung polling places and so on.
I saw Times Book Club Diva and blogger Lynn Carey at her desk, upright and working despite her sniffles and a recent trip to Illinois. Carey, who plans to post later at Between the Covers, said she was planning to vote later this evening because she knew she would probably run into friends then and “it’ll turn into a gabfest.”
I saw Times columnist and blogger Tony Hicks working on an e-mail and proudly sporting his “I voted” sticker. Hicks, who blogs at Insert Foot, said he thinks he’ll stay up well into the evening to watch the results on cable news. He’s one of those types that’s wired a certain way, so that election days and disaster events send the adrenaline surging through him. “Days like today, I miss working the (metro) desk,” he said.
I walked over to the newest part of the newsroom, recently renovated to accommodate some features folks. Dino Ray Ramos, who blogs on fashion and celebrity at Dressed, was planning on an afternoon polling-place blitz before heading home to pack for the second half of Fashion Week in New York City.
Gary Bogue, the Times’ pets and animal columnist, was just walking away from his new spot in the newsroom. Bogue said his wife got up to vote early. When he goes to his polling place this afternoon, he said he hopes to be able to gauge turnout, which may exceed 60 percent statewide.
Jennifer Modenessi, who posts to the East Bay art blog Seen, shared some of her thoughts in an e-mail.
“I just remembered that on my way to the Berkeley Art Museum this morning, traffic on 680/24 was pretty thick. I know it was probably just normal morning commute traffic (although it was past 9 a.m.) but traffic slowed to a drip in two places … underneath the last freeway overpass in Walnut Creek before you get into Lafayette and again underneath the first overpass in Lafayette. People waving Obama ’08” signs both times.
“I was running late so instead of saying ‘Yay!!!!’ I thought ‘Grrrrrr!’
“The only other political placard I saw (causing no traffic slowdown) was above a bore of the Caldecott Tunnel … ‘Vote Ron Paul.'”
Times public safety writer Scott Marshall, who hit the Contra Costa County Precinct 387 polling place at Willow Creek community center in Concord around 11 a.m., overheard a poll worker:
“By 8 o’clock tonight, we’ll have this system down.”
Opinion page writer Michelle Fry wrote in:
People are excited. I think that’s really cool and hasn’t happened a lot in my 6 presidential elections. An older white woman leaving a polling place in Concord said to me, “This is so exciting, isn’t it?” Another person said “Change! It’s in the air!”
Also, interestingly, a couple of people who had their absentee ballots came into the polling place with them. They hadn’t actually mailed them in. I was only there for 5 minutes and 2 people had that issue. Does that happen often?
Vicki Walker, who lives in San Joaquin County and works at the InsideBayArea.com news desk in Pleasanton, dropped me a brief line:
We were the ONLY voters at the Great Valley School precinct at 12:30 p.m. Shameful! I thought everyone was supposed to be coming out for Obama.