The following was written by my brother. Literally, I could not have said it better.
Well, yesterday was a very long day. I felt like an old man after working from 6am to midnight at the polls.
Wait! — I am an old man.
This election marks the first time in my experience that a security guard was present at the polls. Even more remarkable, we had a visit from two, armed investigators from the attorney general’s office. Notice the coma between the words “two” and “armed”. I mean, versus two-armed. There are no one-armed, active investigators, probably.
There were no threats or harassment. Everyone was civil and not even one campaign button, t-shirt, or hat was in sight. They’re not allowed, but hey, who cares, right? We had two observers, one Republican and one “independent citizen”. We welcomed them. They both seemed normal and sincere. I’ve found that most people, once they understand the voting process, are convinced of its integrity and are assuaged of their concerns regarding fraud. (I had to look up the definition of the word “assuage” to assuage my fears that I had misused the word.) Later, one observer told me he is now considering becoming an inspector, rather than an observer. I should have recruited him right there.
I heard that turnout was over 70% in the 4 wards in our district. As chief inspector, I get to handle all the conflicts, questions and sticky situations. Think ping-pong ball. On the other hand, for example, I had the opportunity to serve a voter with a disability who was unable to fill in a standard ballot; to speak to an elderly women who was unable to vote because she was not an American citizen, still a citizen of Germany, she was at the poll waiting for her husband, whom she had met in Germany. At the age of six, her elders were faced, not with the decision of whom to vote for, but whether or not to leave their homes to escape the oppression of the Nazi regime. It turned out to be a six-month journey. At the time, the town in which she lived, and where she was born, was part of Poland. She recalls having no food or water at times. She and the other children ate snow if it was available. Something all of us have done as children, but not to slake our thirst. I’m sure there is so much more to her story but, her husband, having finished voting, gently let her know it was time to go.
At the end of the day, when the hour was approaching midnight, nerves were a bit frazzled. Blood sugar levels were low and caffeine levels too high, perhaps. I needed a Snickers, but could only find cold, cheese pizza. After turning in the ballots and other documents, I returned home and went straight to bed. No glass of wine (or scotch for me), no martinis, no Moscow Mule. Culver’s was closed.
I awoke this morning at 9:39. Late, even for me. I am thinking about voting. No, I’m thinking about the right to vote and the expectation that our differences, no matter how deep, will be decided by the vote; by the majority, And that, if my wishes do not prevail in the election, I will graciously accept the result. If in the majority, I will be sincere in listening to the concerns and respecting the rights of the minority.
I am thinking about the woman I spoke with last night who is not able to vote; a German citizen, born in Poland. Of course, her experience caused me to reflect on my many privileges and good fortune. The dumb luck of being born in this country. How the right to vote in this country, free access to the vote and respect for the minority, no matter how small, are the underpinnings of freedom. She spoke of the plight of children in Ukraine today and how she cannot comprehend why people resort to such violent means to impose their will, or six year old children eating snow.
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