The emotion came at the last minute for the woman ahead of me in line. As she fed her completed ballot into the scanning machine at our Brooklyn polling place, she started crying openly, the tears rolling down her cheeks. Her children were with her, a girl about 8 years old in a puffy pink jacket and a boy just a bit older, wearing a red-white-and-blue hat emblazoned with one word: Hillary.
The mother looked up at me with an embarrassed smile as I waited my turn. She seemed a little surprised by her own outburst. “I’m sorry, I just couldn’t help it,” she said, her cheeks flushed and her eyes rimmed with red. “It just got me.”
Sharon Rothstein proudly votes for Hillary Clinton, with her happy kids in tow, at P.S. 9 in Brooklyn.
To judge by the social media feeds of a nation, she wasn’t the only one overcome by her feelings when she finally cast her ballot for the potential first woman president of the United States.
34 photos view gallery Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign
You could see the excitement welling up online in the “Pantsuit Nation” Facebook group (almost 2.7 million strong as of Election Day around noon), where voter after voter posted selfies reflecting pride, joy and hope over the prospect of a female commander-in-chief. Several who live in red states expressed thanks to the closed group for support that they couldn’t find in their own communities.
Sylvia Dogan hands out "I voted" wristbands at O’Keeffe Elementary School in Chicago.
You could see the enthusiasm for Clinton at polling places around the nation, where some women brought photos of their deceased mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers into the voting booth to bear witness to history.
People visit Susan B. Anthony grave site in Rochester on Election Day.
You could feel the thrill, too, in Rochester, N.Y., where women and men lined up at Mount Hope Cemetery to pay tribute to Susan B. Anthony by putting their “I Voted” stickers on her tombstone there. In exchange, they received stickers that the city’s (female) mayor had printed up, saying, “I Voted Today Because of Women Like Her.” The cemetery announced that it would be staying open late on Tuesday night to accommodate the hundreds and perhaps thousands of citizens who felt moved by the historic import of the moment to make the pilgrimage. (Local news station WROC put up a live stream on Facebook.)
It was in 1872 that Anthony made a radical statement by casting a ballot in a presidential election, even though it was illegal for her to do so as a woman. She was arrested two weeks later, found guilty by a judge and fined $100. As a woman, she wasn’t even allowed to give evidence in her own defense. Now, 144 years and 3 days later, a woman stood on the verge of the presidency.
For months, it was Donald Trump’s campaign that had been loud and passionate. Clinton’s supporters had often seemed subdued in comparison. On Election Day, though, something changed. On Election Day, you could hear them roar.