Assuming the best on Election Day
A 70 mile ride into rural Alabama and a reminder of the privilege of democracy.
I went for a long ride on Election Day morning just to get away from the noise, if not from the yard signs, some on 4x8 sheets of plywood. There’s not a way to describe how beautiful the day was without using a cliche — bluebird sky, crystal clear, crisp and bright. I tried a new variation on a familiar route, turning off Camp Winnataska Road to a community called Stewart’s Crossroads. It was settled in the 1840s by a family of Cherokees who fled Georgia for Alabama to avoid the Trail of Tears. It’s a beautiful stretch of rolling road, curling around lakes and with long views across pastures.
I crossed Wolf Creek and climbed toward Cook Springs, a small community on a plateau of farmland. When I came around the bend I started seeing cars parked on both sides of the road. As divisive as the national election has been, you would have to be pretty cynical not to be moved by a line of people stretching up the road a hundred yards or more waiting to vote at the Cook Springs Volunteer Fire Department. I heard one woman say she’d been waiting three hours. This is a polling place that only had 543 people vote in the 2017 special U.S. Senate election. (And 77% of them voted for Roy Moore.)
As I was headed back to Birmingham on US 78 outside Leeds, the driver of a car coming toward me yelled something, but it was hard to make out because of the speed and the wind in my ears. It was either “Get off the road!” or “Go out and vote!”
Today I’m going to assume they had the best intentions.