Voting is magical. As a wee one, I would venture to the polling place with my Mother. I would stand next to her in the huge lever machine and the curtain would draw shut at she lifted the metal arm to start her voting. The rough material of the dark green-gray curtain always smelled a little musty. Clink, clink, clink for each of her choices. I would reach up to touch a lever and she’d say, “No, you aren’t old enough.” I would feel sad but it was like being inside the Wizard of Oz’s booth. The machine would musically tinkle as she pushed down the metal arm to register her votes as the curtain whooshed open. I was entranced.
Mom occasionally served as an election judge. She would leave before I got up for school and I would drop by the polling place after school to say hi. If it was busy she would just smile and wave and I’d go home. Children weren’t allowed to loiter in the polling area. I would have been content to read a book and just watch from the sidelines.
By the time I turned eighteen the magical machines were gone and replaced by paper ballots. I told my parents that I was a Democrat and they were disappointed. My Father was certain that he had raised a Good Republican as compared to a Bleeding Heart Liberal. Oh well, at least I have a heart (Note: not all conservatives or Republicans are callous nor or all Democrats open hearted). I was very fastidious about voting and began serving as an Election Judge during college for a little extra cash.
The pay is poor, hours lousy, but it’s a civic duty. I am generally the youngest judge and it’s important to be involved in the process. I haven’t judged every single election but enough to get promoted to Head Judge. The Head Judge is the supervisor of the polling place. Responsible to make certain that it is a free and fair election. A lot of stress and anxiety to ensure that the laws are enforced to the letter. However, I love knowing that I am making a direct impact on the success of the democratic process. Much has been sacrificed by my ancestors for me to have this right and reasonability. My father’s aunt lived until she was 107 and would tell me stories about being a Suffragette. It is a citizen’s responsibility to vote in every election.
Most of the time, the election goes smoothly. A few minor problems always arise but they are 99% solvable. What causes the most headache are the big problems. During the Minnesota Gubernatorial election with unusually high turnout due to James Janos (aka Jessie Ventura), the ballot counting machine kept breaking down. When it started giving off whiffs of smoke so I quickly unplugged it and called Election Headquarters for help. It was an old-model paper ballot counter and they didn’t have a replacement. We had to pile the ballots in a box. A voter accused me of fraud but we had two judges from different parties guarding the ballots so it would have been impossible to tamper with them.
A few hours later on the same day, an elderly resident fell on some stairs as he entered the polling place. We got him in a sitting position but it was clear that he was harmed. He refused an ambulance but let me call his son. Meanwhile, we set up a privacy screen so that he could vote where he was seated. His son arrived and took him to the hospital where it was learned that he had broken his hip. We were outrageously busy but I could not ignore a voter who was in peril. That night had to schlep the ballots to be counted in the Headquarters’ machine and didn’t get home until after 2am. I was so glad that I took the next day off from work.
To be continued.
Every Vote Counts!
Copyright © 2013 by Ima B. Musing; All rights reserved