Confessions of a Polling Station Volunteer

I want to share my experience as a Legal Challenger yesterday at Black Jack City Hall.
  • First of all, almost everyone, except for the mentally unstable pollster that got on everyone’s last nerve and grumbled about the lack of donuts, wanted to do a good job. We were all there to help and worked for a common goal, regardless of our political persuasion.
  • Some of the citizens at my poll station waited up to 3 hours in the cold rain to vote. I walked the lines many times handing out muffins and thanking folks for waiting. Almost without exception, the response I got was, “No problem. Thank YOU for being here.” Very few people left the line in frustration. Only one old coot caused any ruckus. Growling about waiting for an hour and cursing under his breath. We offered him a chair to wait but he was having none of it. I was both awed by the resignation of the voters to cast their vote and disheartened that they had to wait so long to do it.
polling station volunteer
  • The pollsters administered a half dozen Curb-side votes, which is when the pollsters come to a person’s car who is not physically able to get inside the polling station. When you compare the folks that have to make that much effort to vote with the ones who argue they are too cynical to vote because all politicians are liars, there is just no contest. Effort trumps apathy every time.
  • Two of the pollsters I pegged as ideologues, but I may have been prejudiced by their somewhat hip Amish persona. They were a very sweet, young, newly-married couple who took the election official class three days prior “in an effort to prevent voter fraud“. Right. That anonymous free right that people are abusing out of spite and waiting hours away from their jobs to commit. Sarah Silverman said it best here. Still, whatever gets you there, I suppose. When asked why I was there, I responded “to make sure everyone who wants to vote is able to exercise that right”. In my defense, newlyweds are just annoying, with their cheerfulness and fully-packed coolers with snacks they don’t share.
  • I was the Democratic Challenger. The Republicans sent a challenger as well. The first one, Matt, also a lawyer, was a really nice guy. I don’t mean that like when my parents say things like “She was really competent, for a girl.” The advertising and vitriol, and obsession with the nut-wings like Todd Akin, have really done a disservice to our dialogue with each other. Most of us want the same things. Education for our children, safe streets, equality. We differ on how we get there, but there is a lot of middle ground we can reach. If you only watched Fox News, I can only imagine what your world view would look like. You’d be convinced that the current Muslim President was mounting a secret plot to confiscate your semi-automatic Winchester shotgun.
polling station volunteer
  • One citizen needed help bringing her brother, who had schizophrenia, into the polling place. It both impressed and terrified me that he was voting. It also underscored the fact that each of our votes counts the same. The Koch Brothers can only cast one vote each, just like the guy with schizophrenia. This is one of the things that makes this country great.
  • I liked the second challenger, Mark, who showed up for the second shift. Final observation: People are not as they appear. You would never have pegged pollster Marcus, a young African-American who worked security, as a Republican. Folks probably pegged me as a Dem because I wore my Unicorn necklace with super powers for good luck. I was also struck by the inherent skepticism people have about people in authority. Mark was very tall and dressed professionally. He was no more in authority over anything than I was, but his demeanor and presence was such that one might assume he was in charge. Proof that looking like you are in charge is half the battle.
I think I speak for all of us when I say that thank goodness this shit is over!

One thought on “Confessions of a Polling Station Volunteer

  1. I voted 2 weeks ago so I didn’t have to wait in those lines. I hate the new way that NY has chosen to vote, so absentee ballot it is.
    Hope you didn’t catch cold out in the rain!

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