As I encourage my senators to vote for the For the People Act, I can’t stop thinking about the election workers at the polling stations in Arizona where I volunteered as a poll observer in the days before the 2020 election. The election there ran like elections should run everywhere – orderly, efficient and welcoming.
I came from California with a mission to make sure everyone voted, expecting chaos and division. What I found was the opposite. I spent a week sitting in polling station corners with my badge and my knitting, watching and listening.
At the Glendale Community College polling station, as at all voting locations, there had to be a bipartisan staff. The two “judges,“ as they are called, were from each party. The woman I assumed to be the Democrat was a bubbly young woman in Doc Martens, and the presumed Republican an older, retired hairdresser with a hive of orange hair. They spent two days chatting up a storm – about Halloween and Lake Tahoe and model train sets and fishing and how COVID-19 was saving the hairdresser money she would have spent in slot machines in Prescott. When a voter had a technical question, they both jumped up and stood together to help and then went back to chatting.
The Republican woman wasn’t super sure about COVID-19. She wore her mask the whole time like she was supposed to but she just thought people were overreacting a little, like her brother who “stays home all the time and never talks to any people.” But then she conceded he’s always been like that, even to the family at Thanksgiving. As the diverse stream of voters came in, she greeted them all with friendliness and respect.
Donna, the boss, was diligent, making sure unofficial poll observers and electioneers stayed beyond the 60-foot mark, assisting people with ID requirements, making sure I didn’t talk to any voters. (Once she saw I was abiding by the rules, she relaxed about me.) I heard her laughing with the other workers about accusations of Sharpies bleeding through ballots, supposedly voiding them. I saw them hold up a ballot to show they were offset-printed so even if a Sharpie did bleed through, voiding was impossible. The election was well run, and I was proud to see it.
I’ve thought so many times about Donna and her crew – how their names and patriotic intentions have been dragged through the mud as screaming protests formed and official and unofficial audits commenced. I feel so badly for these people because I saw them at work.
We have to pass the For the People Act. Our democracy depends on trust in our elections, and that trust has been badly eroded. Call your senators and demand they vote yes.
DemCast is an advocacy-based 501(c)4 nonprofit. We have made the decision to build a media site free of outside influence. There are no ads. We do not get paid for clicks. If you appreciate our content, please consider a small monthly donation.