An inside look at the voter’s experience – Part 2

Attendees wait for the rally to start.

This is the second piece in a series of three parts by Mountlake Terrace resident Michelle L. Hankes on her experiences as a voter throughout the years and becoming more engaged in politics. Read Part 1 here. The next part will be published Friday.

From the first part of this insider’s look, you will remember that my first rally was a bit drab — full of lackluster lines and drizzly rain. But, all ended well with an impromptu rainy speech given to all the line dwellers who never got inside. I had concluded that day as a win in many ways. I realized my resistance to rain-drenched attire and welcomed a connection to a community with thoughts and desires not unlike my own. In the end, I walked away wet, but happy.

When another opportunity arose to join the throngs in another rally, I hemmed and hawed. I had been to one, albeit from the outside looking in, so what new was going to come from attending another? Why stand in line for another four hours on a Friday when I can watch it on YouTube?

But something inspired me: I wanted to see how this one was going to be different, if at all, and how people were going to respond. The last rally was a drizzly Sunday afternoon. This one was set for a Friday during rush hour. Would people come? Would it be smaller, bigger or the same? I was now filled with curiosity and opted to take my chances on getting in, yet again.

I found the online RSVP, filled out the information, submitted my form, and wrote down what I needed to know. This time, my friends would be working and unable to attend with me.

I planned my day, arriving early, making sure to leave most of my belongings at home — no food, no drinks, only bringing the basics. Friday happened to be sunny and beautiful, albeit a bit cool since it is still March.

I found some parking, got in line and checked out the people around me. Again, smiling, excited faces, children perched on shoulders and volunteers walking up and down the line offering to assist people with voting needs. No protesters, no pickets, no signs of discord. Just a singular line that ran alongside the south edge of Safeco Field. By the end, I was told the line ran around Safeco and into Pioneer Square, but I was lucky enough to get there before it had reached that length.

I enjoyed the sun and moved slowly along, but at a considerably better pace than the previous weekend. Security was still tight with both local law enforcement and the Secret Service checking the masses and our possessions. I got in, found a good seat, then proceeded to sit and wait and just take it all in. Safeco is a beautiful field and with the sun shining, it provided people with good spirits.

The same can be said for the previous Sunday, so it started to make me wonder if the good spirits were less about our unpredictable weather in Seattle and more about the anticipation of what this candidate reflects on doing. But isn’t that what political revolution is all about? It’s not about the ideals of the one who is speaking, but if they match your own.

John Popper plays The Star Spangled Banner to start the rally at Safeco Field.

People were chatting, signs were being waved, local bands played. One man dressed like a flame danced in the aisle. People were having a good time. They bought beer, ate nachos and did the wave for a rolling ten minutes. I was kind of impressed with how long the wave lasted–another testament to how people were feeling. We even got a short performance from John Popper of Blues Traveler and his incredible harmonic rendition of The Star Spangled Banner.

Then it began. Black suits flooded the field and the crowd began to cheer. The candidate we all came to see walked up to the podium, smiling and waving to the crowd. Photographers went crazy, camera phones clicking and the speech began with a generous hello.

Regardless of what was being said and who was saying it, the rally itself presented an interesting insight. People want to be connected and they want to offer themselves in a way that they feel matters, whether it’s to one or to all. The estimates of attendance to the second rally was 17,000 inside the stadium and another 17,000 outside wanting to get in. The estimates are rough, but essentially, this means that there were more people this time. The time of day didn’t deter them. So now that we are all pumped up, what do we do next?

–Story and photos by Michelle L. Hankes

Michelle L. Hankes is a local writer, reader and avid fan of all things joyful. She has authored three books about nature, metaphysics, and spirituality and has written articles and poetry for several publications. By grace and funny circumstances, she has lived happily in pretty and peaceful Mountlake Terrace for nearly two decades. For more information, visit

  1. It’s been my understanding that does not post stories about politics. But as this 3 part article shows, people are interested in “civic engagement.” Something I do believe a community news source like can and should publish stories about. The phenomena that is the Bernie Sanders “Movement” is important to talk about. But not just as a circumstance that has motivated people to take part in government. We should be posting stories about the issues he talks about that are waking up the American electorate. Issues that are especially important to middle and working class folks in MLT.

    I’m supposing that because Mr. Sanders is hardly mentioned in these posts, let alone the ideas he champions, the story is acceptable because it’s not openly partisan. But a more “political” breakdown of why his issues are so important would tell us so much more about why people are so engaged in politics this year. The calamitous circumstances the 99% in this country have been suffering due to conservative policies are what citizens are expecting the Sanders’ “revolution” to address.

    I am thankful that is showing the power of this movement. And I hope that your readers are moved to ask themselves how they can be more involved in our democracy at all levels. Not just in Presidential years when everyone is paying attention to that drama.

    1. Hi Luis: We certainly do — and will continue to — post opinion pieces and letters to the editor from folks who want to support a candidate or issue. But because we are committed to making sure that all community voices feel comfortable commenting here, we do not endorse specific candidates or issues.
      — Teresa Wippel, publisher

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