I have always encouraged people to vote, I don’t care who you vote for as long as you vote. A couple years ago (2018) I was asked by a friend, what have you done about it. I responded, “I vote and I encourage others.” He said, “Posting on Facebook and Twitter doesn’t do anything. Are you a poll worker, a poll watcher or done a voting registration drive.” I knew I could do so much more to help people vote.
Voting was instilled in me by my dad, he is a trucker driver and voted by absentee ballot a lot. I remember in 1988 my dad sat my brother (who is younger than me) and myself down, we watched him fill out his ballot. I still remember that ballot, the Republican Party had a picture of Lincoln and Eisenhower, the Democratic side had a picture of FDR and JFK. He explained to us how important it was for us to vote. People fought and died for this right and it is the only thing that is asked of us as citizens. My brother told me, a couple months ago this never happened and I made it all up. I was stunned and responded I can tell you everything on that ballot including the Senator and who was running for mayor. He responded that dad never did this because he asked dad a couple months ago if he did mail in voting, my dad said no. My mom piped up and said yes he voted absentee the whole time he worked for Dick (my dad’s former boss). Apparently mail-in voting and absentee are two different things… NEWSFLASH they aren’t it is the same damn thing! One is a scare tactic (to set the ground work to help invalidate an election), the other is how they (Republicans) actually vote. After this exchange on Facebook with family I realized how important this election is and I needed to do something. I started researching becoming a poll worker, I put it on the back burner because life got in the way.
I voted absentee for the first time in my life in April. It was easy and nice because I could actually research everything. In Georgia there was a runoff and I voted in-person in August. It dawned on me the poll workers were older (in their 70s-80s) a vulnerable population during a Global Pandemic and we rely on them, so we can vote. I am “young,” healthy and already work with the public, so I asked one of the poll workers, how do I do this? They said go to the Elections Office and fill out an application, you take a class and show up on Election Day. I did a little more investigation on my own, took an on-line orientation and was like I could totally do this. I drove out to my election office and I applied. I have taken more background checks (Federal, State and Local) than the average person, this one was by far the longest I had to wait to get the results back. They called me the last week in September, I was signed up for a training class.
The training was very easy, how the polls work, the rules, pretty much the Do’s and Don’ts on Election Day. There was several things I was unaware of (this is specific to Georgia only – each state is different) such as no one can be within 150 feet of a building campaigning, however if there is a line they have to be an additional 25 feet from the end of the line. If you have seen the early voting lines in Georgia, they are miles away from the building. Please don’t try to drop your absentee ballot off at a polling station on Election Day, if there is no ballot box, we cannot take it. I know you want to document your ballot for history, nope can’t do that – no photos or selfies with your ballot, you can take one outside with your sticker. Another interesting fact, in my county there has never been higher than 80% turnout, the closest came in 2008 – 79%. From the early voting data so far in our county we could surpass 80% if the trend continues.
I was recently asked why? Why did I want to become a Poll Worker? The answer is simple, without Poll Workers you can’t hold the vote. They are there as volunteers to ensure, everyone can participate in the act of voting. Voting and the Census are the only things “We the People” are asked to do, if I can assist in making that easier I will. I also want to be responsible for handing out stickers all day because stickers make everyone happy.
Have a plan to vote, whether it is by mail, early or in person on Election Day. How are you getting to the polls on Election Day? Will you get in trouble if you are late for work? What if the line is longer than Black Friday? Did you bring snacks? Water? A chair? Bathroom (most Polling Stations have a restroom – be nice to your neighbors and they might let you come back in line). Bring a charger for your phone so you can stream videos, listen to music. What happens if aliens attack? Or Zombies? Have a plan A and a plan Z for voting this year! Also wear a mask, yes you can still vote without one but it shows you are a selfish asshole and don’t believe in science or care about your fellow man.
In 2020, I stepped up, I applied and will be a Poll Worker on Election Day. For me it is a thrill to be able to work and see this process in person. I will protect this right as long as I am able, this is what makes us unique and wonderful. The power to vote, the power to enact change, to be in the room where it happens because that is everyone’s power. Voting is the ultimate power and everyone who can vote, needs to vote, no more I am going to sit this one out. You need to vote, you need to do your research and vote like your life depends on it!
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