Friday, October 31, 2014
On Tuesday You Can Take the Wheel, Or Not
For more years than I can remember now I've been a sworn-in poll worker for the Hunterdon County Board of Elections, one of those folks who signs you in and points you to the proper voting machine, maybe helps you out if you have trouble with it. We happy few, we band of sisters and occasional brothers.
It's something of an ordeal. We must show up at the firehouse at five fifteen on Tuesday morning, set the machines up, and lay out the paperwork to be ready for the first voter by six o'clock, when the polls open. With a short break for lunch we must remain at our stations until after eight that evening, when the polls close and we shut down the machines and pack up the election results to be sent to the county.
But it's something of a treat as well. The pay is generous for this sort of thing, way more than I'd get for serving on a jury. Best of all I get to see people I don't run into from one year to the next, sometimes noting with pleasure that they seem healthier and more prosperous than they did the year before, sometimes hearing what their children are doing, sometimes helping their now grown-up children to cast their first ballots. Now and then people who were perfectly fine the year before appear in wheelchairs, or showing signs of dementia, or so blind that they require help in the booth. Still they drag themselves to the firehouse to vote.
Making it possible for people to vote, making it as easy and pleasant as we can for them to vote, is regarded by the poll-workers as a sacred duty necessary to the support of democracy. I'm serious about that. We are all serious about that. Not all of the voters are as clear about what they're doing there as we are.
On Tuesday, as you surely know, the hotly-contested mid-term elections will be taking place. The outcome is important to the future of the country, to your future. We all know the clowns are running the circus. They are your clowns. You have three more days to read your sample ballot, research the issues and find out where your candidates stand. If you haven't done this by Tuesday, don't show up at the polls the way you'd go to brush your teeth, because it's good for you, or it's an annual ritual, or it's your civic duty. Stay home. Let the people who know better than you do run your life.
© 2014 Kate Gallison