How long have we been waiting for this day?

Election Day 2008, and history hangs in the balance. Will America elect Barack Obama? The polls and endorsements overwhelmingly indicate yes. Already Dixville Notch has weighed in, Obama beat McCain 15 to 6.

I don’t want to predict that the numbers will go that way, but let’s just say that this bella has a good feeling.

In Miami where I live, almost everyone I know enjoyed the privilege of early voting. I wished I could have joined my husband when he voted last Sunday.

Which brings me to something of a confession.

I am so extremely passionate about this election, and I’ve made no secret of the fact that I support Barack Obama for president. I’ve frequently written and spoken about my admiration for Barack and Michelle Obama. But today I can’t get out and vote.

Because I am like the folks written about in this recent Philadelphia City Paper article, “one of millions of people who will be greatly affected by the outcome of next week’s election, but won’t be able to cast a vote in it. And yet, some of these same people — those who don’t meet citizenship requirements, the incarcerated and the underaged — are more invested in the political process than many eligible Americans.”

I’m in the process of becoming a citizen of this country. Many of my friends assumed that once I married my very American husband, I’d automatically be a citizen. But no – there’s expensive paperwork to be filed, and a test to take.

If there’s one thing I already regret, it’s that I didn’t file my paperwork over a year ago, so I could have participated in this historic election.

I yearn to vote. But I can’t yet.

I am happy and proud to live here. America is a magnificent place – full of opportunity and idealism. I fell in love here, and I live here, and I plan to raise my children here. That makes the prospect of a President Obama all the more significant to me. My kids will be like Senator Obama himself – biracial and bi cultural. The fact that someone like him just might be elected into office warms my heart and fills me with so much hope for my future, and for my unborn children as well. He inspires me. And obviously, he inspires so many others.

I can’t vote today. But you can. Believe me as an onlooker who is unable to — voting is a privilege. I hope all of you who can, exercise your right to do so.

One of my Twitter friends, Butta of Soulbounce and It’s Like Butta Baby, sent me this list of voting rules. I hope they help as you Barack the vote today.

1) Make sure that you have your driver’s license (or an alternative form of state-issued picture ID) and voter registration card together in your wallet/purse RIGHT NOW. You should have already checked to make sure that the information matches. You may want to bring a second form of state-issued picture ID with you to be safe as well.

2) Wear comfortable shoes.

3) Wear and/or bring a few layers of clothing. There’s no telling what the temperature will be outside or inside your polling place so plan for anything.

4) Bring a rolling backpack, book bag or small suitcase with you. You may not want to carry a bag on your shoulders for hours on end. Remember, comfort is key. Check your local regulations, however, to make sure that you can bring bags to the polling place.

5) Bring am umbrella just in case.

6) Bring a book and/or magazines.

7) Charge your cell phone/PDA tonight and bring it with you. But please don’t be one of those obnoxious people in line talking loud and for way too long. Keep your conversations classy.

8 ) Check today to make sure that you have enough daytime minutes on your cell phone if you don’t have an unlimited plan.

9) Bring your laptop if you feel like carrying it around.

10) Load up and charge your iPod tonight. Remember to bring it with you tomorrow.

11) Bring food and water with you. You may in line for breakfast, lunch and, God forbid, dinner, so plan whatever meals, snacks and drinks (non-alcoholic, please) you need to bring with accordingly.

12) Bring gum or mints–especially enough to share. There’s nothing worse than standing in close proximity with someone with bad breath or being that person.

13) Bring a lawn chair with you if you can. Once again, comfort is key, but also check your local rules and regulations to make sure this is permitted.

14) Make friends with the people around you in line. You’ll need them to hold your spot when you take bathroom and/or mental health breaks.

15) In the event that you are in line with people who won’t be voting for your candidate of choice, please keep your cool and the peace.

16) Please don’t get discouraged by the wait. Remember that this is bigger than you. It is critical that you vote.

17) And most importantly, VOTE OBAMA!

By 9 p.m., the votes will start being called. So I’ll be back with a post about our next president. We’re making history today bellas!

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Nichelle says:
November 4, 2008, 8:51 am
Happy Obama Day Bella! I didn't know you couldn't vote! Hopefully you will blog further about your citizenship process in the future. In the meantime, let's enjoy this historic day.:)
Sabrina97 says:
November 4, 2008, 9:02 am
Wow...I assumed you could vote. I read that the citizenship test changed. Native Americans take the process for granted. You'll join us in the next election, God willing! Like Nichelle said, let us know how the process is going.
Mochagold says:
November 4, 2008, 9:24 am
Whoooo let's make a picnic of it, somebody bring the roti, another the curry and yet another the mauby. How about some chilled sorrel. Bella I am sorry that you could not join us this time. But I know you'll be there for that reelection so hurry up and get through those expensive red tapes to citizenship. Having walked that path I can relate, so best of luck to you.Since paying for that privilege, this is my second time voting in a general election.
Wes says:
November 4, 2008, 10:01 am
Aww I would've never thought that you weren't able to vote. You are, however, correct about how most of the non-citizens in this country are very passionate about politics. One of my coworkers is Canadian and is in the same situation as you- He has huge admiration for Barack but cannot vote. This morning I got on that line and hopefully spoke for those who cannot be heard. GOBAMA '08!!!
Get Togetha says:
November 4, 2008, 10:04 am
Hey Bella. I understand your disappointment. My roots are Caribbean as well and I have many family members who can't vote. That's why I got my butt up this morning at 6AM and got on line! I've been voting since I was eighteen and never in my life have I had to wait more than two seconds. This morning; I waited an hour. Yes.We.Can.
Olivia says:
November 4, 2008, 10:06 am
I know citizenship process too well, it can be frustrating but be patient and make sure everything is in order. I voted this morning at 7am with my parents. We should definitely have a party :o)
lala...ladene says:
November 4, 2008, 10:16 am
please VOTE today, if you haven't already. i can feel it...Obama '08! Lets make what happened in Dixville Knox happen everywhere. But you must VOTE! i wont be watching tv at all today, im way too excited! :)
lala...ladene says:
November 4, 2008, 10:17 am
sorry, dixville notch (sp?)
Kweenie says:
November 4, 2008, 10:34 am
Hopefully, you'll be a citizen in time for the next election! In the meantime, a ton of us who are of Caribbean-decent and proud U.S. citizens are making sure our voices are heard and getting out the vote! :) Yes we can! Si se puede! Si on peut!
nolagirl says:
November 4, 2008, 10:36 am
I went to the polls at 5:30 I left at 8! If you registered to vote, but they don't have your name you can fill out a provisional ballot! Hold the line don’t leave. A lady in line by me took snacks and water for 30, and had us all laughing for 2 hours. I love being from New Orleans. Praying my blue city can be in a blue state this year. Yes We Can!
ChocolateOrchid says:
November 4, 2008, 10:47 am
Wow Bella! I didn't know that you didn't have your citizenship! Definitely post about when you do! We'll all celebrate! I voted when they first opened the polls for early voting in Georgia so I'm very happy this day has finally come. I look forward to you (along w/your passion) joining us at the polls in our next election!
ceecee says:
November 4, 2008, 10:49 am
I'm just like you Bella, I can't vote cos I'm not a U.S citizen, but I'm praying for Obama to win at the top of every hour until 9pm when all the polls officially close. That's the least I can do.
Niki says:
November 4, 2008, 11:23 am
I waited for about 45 minutes in line--it was not bad at all. I got up and headed for my poll place at 6:30am. My last name is toward the beginning of the alphabet, so there was a longer line than for those toward the end. I am really hopefully, nervous, and excited about watching the results tonight!
Nikki J says:
November 4, 2008, 11:31 am
I feel your pain Bella. Although I was able to vote today, my husband and 2 aunts are unable to vote because they are not citizens. But I know they were with me in spirit. This is why its important that those of us who are able take advantage of the privlige that we have. Ba-Rack the vote!!
HillerieCamille says:
November 4, 2008, 11:37 am
Hi Bella, when I Baracked the vote today, I knew I was voting for my grandfathers and greatgrandmother who passed away before this historic day. What I didn't know is that I was casting a vote for you as well. Just know that this morning, I cast a vote for Barack Obama for you too.
kris says:
November 4, 2008, 11:40 am
feelin u on so many levels girl i hadda email u soon yes! OBAMAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!
Nineteen69 says:
November 4, 2008, 11:58 am
You aren't able to vote but you have encouraged others in the voting process and made your blog a forum. You have done as much as you could for this campaign. Today we are all a part of history.
Margaret Cooley says:
November 4, 2008, 12:11 pm
I waited about 90 minutes but it was fine. The lines were well organized and people were in good spirits. I thought about my parents - how proud they would be today. And my grandparents. And how hard all of them worked to make sure their girls were well educated and had choices. I'm so happy to be able to exercise my right to vote. I'm happy to live to see the day Barack Obama could be on the ballot for president of the United States. Blessings and peace to everyone. Margaret
Tamara says:
November 4, 2008, 12:24 pm
I have never been so into the election process as I am at this time in my life. Like you Bella, I am not a citizen, I was born in Tortola, BVI. This has been the most bittersweet election cycle for me. To be able to see a Black man possibly win an election and become President of the United States, I just never thought it would ever happen. My grandmother, who was born in Monsterrat, BVI is 81 and is so into the election this year....When I spoke to her yesterday about it, she told me, "I feel like he one of mi pickney" I have never felt so emotional about someone I don't know and a process that I have not been privy to. This is major. This is historic. The icing on the cake will be his victory. Everytime the thought of Obama winning crosses my mind I get emotional, my eyes water, my heart races...I can't explain the pride, the joy, the overwhelming happiness I feel each time. I am trying to remain as calm as possible, but when, no if, but when they announce he is the next president some one better have a box of kleenex handy because I have to let the tears flow...YES WE CAN AND YES WE WILL!!!!
tanya says:
November 4, 2008, 1:36 pm
I've just Baracked the Vote. I've voted a few times before, but never have I been more passionate about our country's future. Even though you can't vote in today's election (darn!), I have no doubt you played your part in keeping people informed. Here's to a better future, we all must play our part.
BKBajan says:
November 4, 2008, 2:52 pm
Bella you should have mentioned this yesterday, we all would have included you in our thoughts when those of us who voted this morning Barack the vote. You may not have been able to cast a vote but you more than did your share of inspiring us to pull the lever. When Mr. Obama runs for re-election in 4 years, we know who will be first in line.
Shell says:
November 4, 2008, 2:52 pm
I'm sorry you wasn't able to vote today. When President Obama wants to run for a second term in '12, you'll be able to vote in him then.
bella says:
November 4, 2008, 3:01 pm
Just got this e mail from Essence, bellas!! We have been loving Afrobella’s continued coverage and support of getting out the vote. We’d definitely be interested in featuring some of your readers and their voting stories on on our “I Voted” spot on the homepage. They just have to share their experience in our community and be sure to include a picture. Send in your voting stories!!
Dionne says:
November 4, 2008, 3:26 pm
This election is especially important for me because it's the first election since my grandmother's death. At 95, she voted in every election, absentea of course because she was home bound. But she saw the importance of getting out the vote and would tell others about it, too. I'd like to think that the vote I that I cast today was in memory of my grandmother. I even wore an Obama pen, or really a "We Love Michelle," pin on my dress to work. Words can't express the emotional experience and magnitude of the election. Each time I try to express my eyes well up a bit. Good luck with your citizenship process, Bella, I heard it's a nightmare. But while you can't vote I want to commend you on doing such a great job of infusing the importance of voting through your political entries as well as those about Michelle's fashion sense.
HaitianRoots says:
November 4, 2008, 3:46 pm
Bella- thanks for this post! i didn't become a citizen until 2004. i was able to vote in that election, and quite frankly, i wasn't super excited about it. But this being my second election, i'm super geeked about what has been going down during these past 21 months. i'm glad to have seen this day. my husband and i voted this morning. we had to wait and hour and twenty five minutes (got there at 6:05 and left at 7:30 am) and it was worth it. go o'biden! lol.
nikki says:
November 4, 2008, 3:55 pm
I voted!! I went at 1 pm, and it took me about 10 songs on my Ipod to get into the booth. (I had to turn my cell phone off, so I couldn't check the time). I had my driver's license to verify my address. Let me tell you, even though the line was wrapped around the hallway (down one side and up the other), people were pleasant, and in an upbeat mood. The poll workers were fantastic, and I made sure to thank them for keeping everything running so smoothly. And let me tell you what my 10 year old daughter said last night after I told her that Sen. Obama's grandmother died. I told her that I was sad that she wouldn't be able to see her grandson become the next President of the United States. My baby said, "Yes, she will, Mommy! I know she went to Heaven and she's looking down on him and us and she is very proud of him. I am, too! Barack the Vote!!" My heart just melted. :) I will be so nervous waiting for the results tonight!! CNN and the internet will get an extensive workout!!
Christine says:
November 4, 2008, 4:04 pm
I just read that article while lunching after jury duty (I am having the most civic day ever). Fingers are crossed. Hopefully by the next election you will be up and voting! Good wishes your way! And I don't care how liberal and elite I may be, voting this morning was just so freaking moving, go USA! Go Barack Obama!
Trecia says:
November 4, 2008, 5:08 pm
I understand how you feel. I'm not a citizen myself then again im not in America neither but with history in the making i wish i was able to be apart of it. Can't wait for tomorrow.
Lauren says:
November 4, 2008, 5:38 pm
i've been waiting for this day for 8 years!! Finally by tonight (g-d willing) we will have a president who understands our country and respects the people who live in it. I am so excited for tonight, even though we have to wait until January to see him in office. even though u are not able to vote, miss bella, you have held important, meaningful, and much needed debates here on your blog and have given many people a true view of this preidential race. so you have done your civic duty and helped us voters to make honest decisions about this election, so thank you!Obama 08', 09', 10', 11', and 12'!!!
Mrs.Mckinzie says:
November 4, 2008, 5:51 pm
They say my people don't vote,and that black people only stand in line for hours for something free, Well they lied today.I have been so excited all day seeing all of our elders,all of the young people,and all of my people out there early in the morning wrapping these lines around these schools all day long.My husband ,and I could not help but honk our horn in support of everyone standing in those long lines.I got my tail up at 4:00 am ,and I was in line by 5:00 am number 15 to be exact.I just pray that I don't bring down the house when I jump up and down when they announce the winner.Wow! I Feel Good.
afrobello says:
November 4, 2008, 6:32 pm
Bella, I wish you the swiftest bestowment of citizenship. Our country needs Americans with your awareness and sense of duty.
Kari says:
November 4, 2008, 6:34 pm
Right there w/you. We rockin' in the same boat.
paradisebird says:
November 4, 2008, 6:59 pm
much love from germany!!most of the german people would vote Barack Obama! so many people here are watching the elction tonight and the majority of the germans want him to win. i am keeping my fingers crossed. when he visited our country in summer he leaves the german citizens deeply impressed and touched.his speech, his spirituality blew us away. it was the first time in my life i felt proud of my country (i am also biracial, african-german). So i am staying up tonight mostly and pray for Barack Obama to win.
sandra G. says:
November 4, 2008, 9:46 pm
Bella, you voted in spirit! You gave of yourself with this blog and you never know who you encouraged to get out and vote. Thank you so much.
pets says:
November 5, 2008, 5:23 pm
Next election you will be able to vote but also bear in mind that being a citizen is not just about voting - it is about being a hands-on helper, a responsible supporter of the government & it is about loving your country & its people..Bella by encouraging the people who read your website to vote at this time, you have passed some of the basic elements of the test of what being a good citizen is all about. Congrats on being so involved and kudos for the acknowledgement by Essence of that commitment.


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