I love Election Day. You can usually find me outside the Capital Memorial Church during the busy times before and after work, passing out literature for one local pol or another. It’s a time to greet neighbors, talk about the neighborhood, and chat with others who, like me, come out to support their candidates at the polls.
In elections past, Jay Thal, precinct captain, voting rights history buff and a fixture at this polling place for more than 20 years, would emerge at times to make sure that those of us who passing out campaign literature and talking to voters kept our distance from the entrance. Our boundary was clearly marked by signs. He also would give us updates on how many people had voted.
When I arrived to cast my vote this time, I was greeted not by a gauntlet of campaign supporters, but by six election volunteers.
When I entered the church, I found another three election workers inside the door.
They instructed me to apply the provided hand sanitizer and directed me to a table to sign in.
Here, another election worker looked up my address on a tablet. I asked him if he was a first time election assistant since he looked so young. He was. Once I confirmed my address and signed my name on the tablet, I moved on to the next group of election workers, the ones who will give you a paper ballot or assign you to voting machine.
The young woman who assisted me was another first-time election volunteer.
The final step – another slather of hand sanitizer. And then out the door.
Fellow voter Nathan Kigenyi followed me out. I asked him why he, like me, had waited until Election Day. He told me had to reregister because he had moved, and he thought it was too late. But a friend called early in the morning to say that he had just registered and voted at his own polling place – a process that took less than ten minutes. Indeed, it was a breeze.
Volunteers far outnumbered voters. There must have been more 25 election workers inside and out. I had never seen so many or a line of them outside the door. And it wasn’t the usual retiree crew. The six workers outside bade me goodbye and thanked me for voting. I thanked them for working and turned to ask them if this was their first time. The answer from all six was “yes.” Three of them were in their thirties, two in their fifties, and one was 61 years old.
I just wish I could have drummed up more voters for these eager election assistants. And I missed Jay.