EXCLUSIVE: Party Atmosphere Among Cleveland Early Voters

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Outside the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections in Cleveland yesterday, it was like a block party.

It was ten minutes after 1 p.m., the official closing time, but the office was still open. A line of several hundred people waiting to vote wrapped around the building and down the block.

Outside the board of elections

Outside the board of elections

Nearly all the folks in line were young Blacks in their 20s and 30s. Seasoned Obama staffers, anticipating long lines, and concerned folks might give up and go home, had arranged for a live hip-hop DJ to entertain the throng.

Euclid and 30th

Euclid and 30th

Across the street on the corner of Euclid and 30th, music blared from speakers and a makeshift booth set up on the sidewalk outside the Methodist church there. DJ Chela, from Raleigh, N.C., played classic hip-hop, funk, soul and even some gospel. No one seemed to mind the wait. Some people even came over to make requests. Chela had been in town for week, volunteering. She said she’d be back tomorrow, and the next day.

Law enforcement was on hand, but their presence was not overbearing. Everyone who was on line before 1:30 p.m. got to vote. After that, they started turning people away.

Police say "Time's Up."

Police say "Time's Up."

All of the components of what has made this election year historic were on display: folks from all racial backgrounds eager to cast their vote, younger Black voters anxious to get their slice of the American dream, and older folks of all races proud to pass the baton to another generation of Americans.

Back of the line

Back of the line

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