Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Tribute to Poll Workers...

I will never again cast my vote and think to myself, "That was easy. Nothing to it." And here's why. For the first time in many years of voting, my husband agreed to be the Election Judge for our precinct. And with that volunteer acceptance began the education process for us of the whole voting process and its complexities. He attended a 4 hr. training session; he has spent hours pouring over the Election Judge Manual so that he will be ready to assist voters with every aspect of the process throughout the day; he picked up all the materials - ballots, signs, forms, pens, stand up sections for tables, etc...; he got to the polling site by 6am to get all things set up with the other workers who arrived before then; he administered the "Oath of Office" to the poll workers before 7am and will stay all day to respond to anything which may arise during the voting process. He considers this an honor - a precious privilege. It has been a learning experience for both of us. I hadn't thought about the folks with mobility problems who may not be able to leave their car to walk into the building. The law provides for a secure and secret way for them to cast their ballot curbside. My appreciation for the US voting process has heightened considerably because of the increased exposure to the process this year. I had a minor part to play. I shopped for and provided some snacks for the poll workers if they are ever able to take a break. There had been no time for even a cup of coffee before the doors were opened to a line of people ready to vote at 7am in our precinct.

As I left the polling place, I thought about all the polling places across the country. I can't begin to estimate the number of volunteers it takes to make this event happen. It is huge!!! And these people are serious and faithful with a common sense that what they are doing is a privilege not a pain. At our polling place, I detected a slight accent in the speech of one of the volunteers. I asked where this person had grown up and she admitted to being from a European country. What a wonderful response from someone who is grateful to be a citizen of this great country.

And I haven't begun to list all the pieces of this voting puzzle that must be in place for voting to take place. We picked up the items for our precinct from a storage facility and someone there had carefully counted and packaged everything we needed and carefully signed our materials out. But someone created the ballots, had them printed, wrote the manuals, set the tabulating machines, created the signage, established and marked the "Campaign-free zones" outside the doors and so much more.

When I was a child, my mother was a volunteer at our local voting place which was a One-Room Country School in Bluff Siding, WI. The one-room school I attended was used by another part of our county so I rejoiced that we had a day-off from school. My mother thoroughly enjoyed the day as time to interact with other adults and have some time-off from caring for 5 children, a husband and our dairy farm. She started early and stayed very late to make sure every vote was accurately counted and recorded. She, also, felt that her service was a precious privilege of being an American. Being patriotic was a high priority for my mother and she motivated my father to construct a flag pole on our farm where daily she flew the American flag with great pride.

With deep gratitude, I pay tribute to every paid worker and volunteer who has been and is at work today seeing that the election process is held fairly, accurately and humbly as would pay honor to our forefathers and mothers and respect the prized right of every citizen of the United States of America.

Mom, thanks for your example; and John, thanks for your willingness to take a "vacation day" from your work to provide this service to our precinct. Both of you are fine examples for our family and friends to follow.

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