For the first time, I worked the polls on Election Day. I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting myself into, but I wanted to feel like I was a part of this very important process.
The precinct I worked was probably 75% African-American. We had close to 1200 voters (an all-time high turnout), and a mere 76 of those were registered as Republicans. I bit my tongue and didn’t challenge anyone as to why on earth they would be Republicans. 🙂 (I included that line for you, Dad.)
I wasn’t in my own precinct, so I had to file an absentee ballot on Monday. This precinct was adjacent to ours, though, so I got to meet some of our neighbors (who live one block away from us; apparently we’re right on the dividing line even between Congressional districts – who knew?) since I got to see their street addresses. One recognized me as the “one who walks those beagles” and another said, “Oh, you’re in the yellowish house with the red shutters, right?” It was nice to make a few new connections in the neighborhood.
One thing that surprised me was how many people thanked us for working the polls. I don’t remember ever saying that to any of the election workers when I’ve voted in the past, and maybe this was a generally new sentiment due to the energy and buzz surrounding this election. But it made me feel good, especially during the very busy times. At the poll book table, the three of us worked nonstop from 7am to 1pm, without time to do anything other than breathe. No restroom breaks, no drinks, no food. The line was an hour and a half long for much of the morning. It wasn’t our fault – we were moving things along as fast as we could, and that was clear to the voters – it was due to the sheer numbers of voters. I didn’t hear a single complaint about the line, though.
The energy was palpable. People hooted and hollered when a first time voter cast his or her vote. Voters were smiling and showing how happy they were to be there.
I checked in a woman who was 86 years old and voting for the very first time in her life. She said she didn’t think her vote mattered until now. I’ll admit that it choked me up a bit. What an amazing time. And what a beautiful day it is today!