ST PETERSBURG -- The quarter-mile long line that began forming before 5 a.m. outside the Blessed Trinity Catholic Church parish hall on the south side of the city has diminished to only a handful of people now, and so far, everything has gone swimmingly here this morning.
"No problems so far, thank God," said Lionel Roberts, an 82-year-old poll worker, surveying the short, neat line along the sidewalk. "With a huge election like this, sometimes things go wrong, but it's been smooth up till now."
In this middle class, largely black neighborhood of neatly tended stucco ranch houses and condo buildings, there is no sign of the McCain campaign. But scores, maybe even hundreds, of blue Obama campaign signs have sprouted like dandelions in the cropped grass along the median strips.
The Obama campaign also has a volunteer lawyer walking around the parish hall -- black clogs, striped socks, a blunt-cut bob -- offering voters help making sure they're at the right precinct. An elderly lady is sitting on a lawn chair under a blue sign with the omnipresent Obama logo on it: "Voting Rights Questions? Ask Me."
Democrats are worried about a controversial new state law, known as "no match, no vote," which requires that voters' drivers licenses and Social Security numbers match government databases in order for them to register to vote, and requires those who do not match up to cast provisional ballots. More than 12,000 voters -- including more than 2,000 in the Tampa area, according to the St. Petersburg Times -- are now on this list. The majority are African-American and Hispanic, and Democrats far outnumber Republicans. Election watchers are worried these voters could be disenfranchised.
But at Blessed Trinity, Roberts said, the issue had not arisen this morning, and all seemed tranquil as people left from the back of the parish hall and walked past a courtyard with a bubbling fountain to their cars. Every voter interviewed was a passionate Obama supporter.
"I"m very hopeful, still there is that little knot in your stomach -- will this country allow an African-American to be president?" said Alesia Davis, a 40-year-old medical recruiter, who stopped in to vote on her way to work.
The weather is chilly, for Florida -- about 65 degrees. The skies are overcast and the air is still.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.