Last Tuesday the State of California held a primary election. I was a poll worker. I firmly believe that voting is more than a right, it is a responsibility. So anything I can do to support the voting process is, in my mind, a good thing to do.
Back when I started voting you had to go to a polling place unless there was something unusual going on in your life. In that case you could request an absentee ballot. So I tend to view this “vote by mail” approach that many people have chosen as not quite right. I like voting in my polling place. I know that for polling places to exist, there is a need for poll workers. And that is why I volunteered to get up at 4:30am on a Tuesday morning and go to work.
It’s actually a nice job, other than having to get up at 4:30 in the morning. The long lines that you see on the news don’t happen in our precinct. We have four voting booths and only once in the past three elections have I seen anyone waiting for a voting booth. I don’t know if this situation is true of California in general but this is the 48th year I’ve voted in California, in four different counties, and I’ve never had to wait in line for more than a few minutes. So voters aren’t stressed out about the voting process when they arrive to get their ballot. Just like having vote in person locations, not having to wait in long lines is the way things should be.
One of the advantages of living in a rural area is that everyone who votes at our polling place is a neighbor and in the country you tend to know your neighbors. Almost everyone who came in knew at least one of the poll workers and business was light enough that there was usually time for a short chat. Everyone followed the rules and didn’t talk about politics but more than one person did say “Now I can complain.”
That’s another part of the voting process I approve of. If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain about elected officials.
A large number of vote-by-mail people dropped off their ballot in at the precinct polling place. If you leave it to the last minute, it’s a better option than not voting. We asked all of the vote-by-mail voters if they wanted a “I Voted” sticker. Just like the vote in person voters, almost everyone wanted one.
There was one more group of people that we gave “I Voted” stickers to. A number of people brought young children with them when they came to vote. We told the children that they were voters in training and we expected to see them back for real when they were old enough. The “I Voted” sticker was part of the process. It’s not much but anything we can do to encourage young people to vote is something.