Tom's River, N.J.

As Election Day dawned, the early news from Ballot Box USA was all about voter registration challenges, lost absentee forms, and long lines. But on Saturday in a small New Jersey town known mostly for its winning 1998 Little League team, democracy was working quite well, thank you.

At the office of the Ocean County Clerk in coastal Toms River’s venerable courthouse, voters requesting absentee ballots first went through a metal detector manned by a brawny and polite young police officer and then squeezed into a small elections office. There three efficient and knowledgable women clerks checked licenses against an electronic database and handed paper absentee ballots to voters whose identification checked out. After briefly explaining the ballot, they sent voters a few blocks away to deliver their choices to the Board of Elections.

At board offices in an immaculate modern building, another set of top-notch clerks logged in ballots and wished a voter and his little daughter Happy Halloween. As one young man who was casting his ballot left the office, he high-fived a waiting girlfriend--both excited by what was likely his first Presidential vote.

Walking outside, with yellow and orange leaves falling, a voter felt a surge of pride at having seen the way America is supposed to work.

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