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Historic election day goes smoothly in Upper Keys

From 7 a.m. Tuesday, when polls opened, to midnight, when a new president-elect had addressed the nation, few problems were reported during what many considered an historic Election Day.

At the Caribbean Club on Key Largo, a free picnic and a live Democratic mascot drew a crowd that thinned out throughout the evening. A few people watched election results on the TVs at Dillon’s Pub & Grill around 8 p.m., as the polls closed in many states.

Few voters waited more than a few minutes at polling places, according to observers throughout the Keys.

“This is an historic election. How could you not want to vote in this one?” Ivette Coole asked after voting in Tavernier.

At the Tavernier Elks Lodge, about 40 people were waiting before the polls opened. At the Key Largo Civic Club, Ronnie Jones said he was at the front of the line with about 60 people behind him at 6:45 a.m.

That evening, watching the results come in on TV, Jones expected his candidate to succeed.

“I think Obama’s going to win big,” he said. “I think it’ll be a historic night. We’ll remember this night forever.”

About 50 people remained at the Caribbean Club at 9 p.m. By that time, only one “tossup” state was decided: Pennsylvania had been won by Sen. Barack Obama.

Pam Martin, who managed the Democrats’ campaign office in the Upper Keys, expressed confidence.

“I’m feeling great,” she said. “I think we’re watching a major shift, more towards sanity, more towards the middle of the road. That’s where Democrats are down here.”

Martin said she was a Young Republican in high school, but was inspired to switch parties so she could vote for John Glenn, the astronaut who became an Ohio senator in 1974.

At about 11:20 p.m., as Sen. John McCain made his concession speech, most people had already gone home, but the remaining few applauded when McCain finished.

“He’s a class act,” one man said of the senator from Arizona.