This 2020 election, I worked the polls.
I want to say I volunteered for the polls. But fun fact, you actually get paid to work the polls. Not a lot. Indeed, very little (close to minimum wage). It’s like jury duty. People do it because, frankly, it’s a civic responsibility. So I’m going to categorize it as something between “work” and “civic participation”.
Working the polls was a blast.
Seriously. I’m a social studies teacher at heart. And seeing people show up to vote, participate in their government, and exercise their rights is incredibly affirming. I think voting should be a party. We the people saying what we want by marking tiny little boxes. My inner John Locke rejoices!
I worked a very Trumpy district (the westside of Cincinnati). Were I to estimate, I suspect 90% of the vote went to Trump. Based on Ohio's election results, it looks like a lot of pro-Trump supporters waited to vote until the day of the election. For us, this meant we were busy. Super busy. Like, I didn’t get to go pee until 2:30 (we opened at 6:30). It was an exhausting day. But in a good way.
My team, the fun and hard working election crew, was fantastic. Polls workers need to have an equal number of Democrats and Republicans. Our team had young college students, a couple of middle-age guys (me), and regular, civically minded, older baby boomers. The college students were drama majors. At one point, they broke into the musical “Mama Mia”.
Like I said, awesome.
People commented. “Wow, you have a diverse group here!” The county said “you are one of the best-run voting locations”.
They probably say that to everyone.
The voters were serious. And intentional. They’d walk to their booths, stand, and think. I’d like to believe they wrestled with decisions. Maybe they did. But at the end of the day, they voted like everyone else around them. Geography is destiny when it comes to voting.
Everyone was quite remarkable. And respectful. Out of 3000 voters that day, we only had 4 assholes. Point 1 percent assholishness is pretty phenomenal in any population. Most folks were doing what they do, paying attention only in the past few weeks, and looking at their neighbors and thinking “yep, me too”.
I particularly loved the first time voters. When you vote the first time, you’re setting up good habits. It’s like brushing your teeth. When a first time voter got checked in, I’d yell “Ring the Bell!” (We didn’t have a bell). But the rest of the team would yell “woohoo!”. And the new voter would give us a dazzling smile.
I’m not going to lie, this “voting fraud” or “legal votes” narrative coming out Trumpistan pisses me off a bit. Most poll workers (of equal parties) worked their asses off last Tuesday. The hard work of citizens. This election wasn’t stollen (not possible - given the million safe-guards). Trump lost. Period. I thinking picking which votes “should” count vs “should not count” is crapping on some basic enlightenment values. Values that are at the core of the US Constitution.
I really hate dogma.
But this isn’t a gripe post. It’s a pride post. People expressed their will. Voting was safe and fair.
I ended the day pretty freaking proud of America (if not incredibly worried about America). I try and be honest. I can hold two competing ideas in my head at the same time. America is wonderful. America is terrible.
But I’m not giving up.
And will work the polls again.