Wednesday, November 5, 2008

On being a cog in a wheel of democracy

Monday evening I stopped by the election office to volunteer as a poll worker for Tuesday afternoon, and today I was privileged to help over 500 people cast their ballots. The work was mundane, and repetitive, and uplifting, and I couldn’t stop smiling while I was doing it.

I was relieved to learn more about how the elections in my town work, how the votes are counted and how the voter rolls work. I checked people off on the voter rolls and handed out ballots, explained how the ballot scanner works and reassured people that their votes were being counted, and helped voters get replacement ballots to fill out when their first ballot was rejected by the scanner due to overvotes or stray marks. Half a dozen times or more, a voter came back to the scanner with their replacement ballot, and every time the replacement ballot was perfect. I saw parents explaining the voting process to their children, and families and friends coming to the polls together, and neighbors catching up, and people returning to the polls to accompany other family members long after they had voted themselves. I saw people who were voting for the first time as an adult, or for the first time as an American citizen, or for the first time for a presidential candidate who inspired them. I saw a woman with portable oxygen, and some people who could barely walk, and some in wheelchairs, and some who could barely see, or hear, or speak. And I played my small part in helping them all vote, and I truly could not stop smiling.

I was unsure about this choice ahead of time. I had strong feelings about parts of this election, and being a poll worker meant I couldn’t hold a sign or distribute information outside the polling place. I had to put my own opinions aside in favor of helping the voting process run smoothly for all voters. In the end it was easy to do because I believe we need a democracy as much as anything.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Now that it's safe to joke: