They are America’s election workers. They are devoted to the fair conduct of our elections. They follow the laws. They work diligently to see that every voter who arrives by the time the polls close gets to come inside and complete the process after they lock the doors – no matter how late it requires them to stay. And then they pack it all up and take it to the courthouse for tabulation.
They got there early in the morning – in Texas probably before 6 a.m. – to set up the polling stations, lay out the county registration lists, and plan the routing of voters to accomplish their task. The people come to express their opinion and the election judges and clerks make sure they have the chance to do it.
In my days as an election judge in Lake Jackson’s Precinct 45, we prepared the punch cards to be used by the voters and allowed them to select a blank card from the table where they signed in. And they were clever enough to notice if any of those famous-since-the-2000-election chads were missing. Of course, they never were. They could see that the card they picked up had no pre-punches.
On primary days, the party’s election judge was responsible to see that the precinct convention occurred. Those usually did not last long but it was an added half-hour to hour on the already long day. Then it was time to take it all to the county drop-off in Angleton ten miles away. The people in the County Clerk’s election office were always very professional and treated the process as the American treasure that it is.
There have been failures along the way. Our state elected to purchase non-auditable electronic equipment with the federal funds appropriated after the close 2000 election. That was, in my mind, unforgiveable. However, we had voted for years with those big refrigerator-looking voting machines that recorded the votes mechanically. Of course, we couldn’t know if they had been tampered with but that was back when citizens trusted each other to treat the vote as sacred.
Now the poll workers do their best to make the experience as safe as possible for voters in the midst of a pandemic. It is an added burden on their already long days of early voting and election day itself.
I have many times seen voters carry their card to the ballot box and, before placing it in, ask if this was the correct place to put it. If there was any problem at all or lack of understanding on their part, they wanted the advice of an election clerk or judge to make sure they were doing the right thing. And they would carry that precious card over to the ballot box handling it with more respect and care than most people use in carrying their holiest of books.
It is a sacred process. The voters know it. The election workers know it.
Donald Trump doesn’t know it. He thinks everyone is trying to cheat the system. The way he does. And that is an insult to the people who run our elections and to you and me, the voters.
The system is not rigged. He is trying to persuade you that it is a useless exercise and that you shouldn’t even bother. That’s how he wins. Don’t believe him.
Mask up. Wash your hands. Vote.