Finally, it’s over!
All of those nasty and vicious and offensive political ads (on TV, radio, newspapers, and printed flyers that arrive in the mail) that have been flooding our lives for the past month and a half are mercifully gone with the completion of Election Day. I wrote about my disgust for such things in my last post, and I don’t care to belabor the point any further.
What I do want to write about, is the wonderful experience I had two days ago serving as an election judge here in our county. Yes, it was an insanely long day (5:15 a.m.-8:00 p.m.), but it was well worth the time invested in doing my civic duty.
The fact that I would be paid for doing this was really not the whole incentive for me to agree to set my alarm for 4:00 a.m. and make the relatively short drive over to the retirement home where the poll I was assigned to work was located. There was also a desire to do something to contribute to this important Election Day.
My opportunity to do just that began when a friend of ours mentioned a while back that she served as an election judge and thought I might be interested in doing so as well, especially since I’m retired and always looking for new and exciting challenges!
I didn’t think much more about this until early October, when she told me that the county was in need of more people to serve as judges. And so I thought the time was right and it was something to look into. I soon contacted the County Clerk’s office to find out what I needed to do.
All election judges are required to attend a training session that goes over the basics and expectations for how to run an election and the protocols required by law. I attended one such session in early October, received a printed booklet that covered everything, and listened to an hour-and-a-half presentation by the County Clerk.
Thus, I was “qualified” to be an election judge, and I could have been assigned to any place in the county. So when I received an official letter in the mail several weeks ago informing me that I was assigned to the retirement center, which is only five miles away, I was pretty pleased.
And then the pre-event “jitters” and worries began! Who would I be with? Would they accept my “rookie” mistakes? Was I really ready to be a part of this very important duty? Eventually, I was able to quell most of my worries when I realized that everyone else had to go through a “first time” themselves, so that was comforting, and I put it out of my mind—until the morning of Election Day.
The five-mile drive to the center was a mixture of anticipation for a good day and a desire to turn around and drive back home and climb back into bed. Fortunately, I pulled into the parking lot, located the main door, and pulled into a parking spot.
At the same time, another car pulled in beside me, and an acquaintance from our church waved and got out. I knew he was an experienced election judge from conversing with him over coffee at church one time, and it was obvious that he’d be working the same poll as I would be on this morning. Talk about instant relaxation! It’s always good to go into something for the first time with a familiar person.
He and I walked into the building together, and soon the other three judges arrived and we began the busy process of setting up the voting area: booths, ballot box/tabulator, handicapped AutoMark machine, table with all of the various “stations” we’d be working throughout the day, starting at 6:00 a.m. All of my nervous trepidation seemed to have vanished as I threw myself into the tasks at hand, learning with each new duty.
The other three judges turned out to be very pleasant and helpful and non-threatening in any way. As a result, my day began well, and I quickly became comfortable moving from duty to duty as the day wore on. And because it was a wonderful turnout, we had very few stretches where there was a lull in the voting.
Probably the most amazing thing I realized about my day as an election judge was watching our great American freedom in action. Men and women, young and old, came in and proudly went through the precious act of voting, guaranteed by our Constitution. The people speak through their votes, and our government needs to really listen.
To say the least, it was a very good day, and the five of us turned out to be a darned good team. Two days removed, I feel awfully good about having done my civic duty and having observed all those many citizens—young and old—having done theirs! —CortlandWriter