Putting this election to bed

The biggest, best-informed and most-representative electorate in American history made its choice yesterday, electing the nation’s first ever African American president by a decisive margin.

I spent Election Day prowling the polls across Albuquerque with my colleague Alicia Lueras Maldonado, looking for people’s personal voting stories and keeping an eye out for trouble.

In New Mexico, so many voters cast their vote early or by absentee ballot that most of the polls we visited were practically deserted. At many sites, poll workers and election protection workers outnumbered actual voters.

But we did manage to snag a few people out voting the old-fashioned way.

Most voters we talked to said they did hours of research on the candidates’ positions before they made their choice.

Several, including some young, first-time voters, said they watched all the presidential debates and made special efforts to see the candidates during their campaign stops in town.

The people we talked to told us they voted because they are concerned about the planet. They are anxious about the economy. They want the war in Iraq to end. And by voting, they exercised their right and duty as citizens to do something about those major issues.

I must say that after the long, nasty election season we’ve all endured, it was gratifying to see such optimism, faith and sense of duty still alight in my fellow Americans.

And when that long Election Day drew to a close and the numbers came in showing that a record 131 million

Americans had voted, I went to bed happy.

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