“I don’t make the rules. I’m just doing my job.” That was a line I used, or one similar to it, many times during my career with the N.C. Dept. of Revenue.
People don’t like paying taxes. Even though it’s part of the cost for living in a free society, (I would use that line.) they still didn’t like it. I understand, because I don’t like paying taxes, either. (Yep, I used that line, also.) But, eventually, there would usually come a point in the process where I would have to say something like, “I understand you don’t like it. But it’s the law, and I’ve got a job to do.”
Many of you who work, or have worked, with the public understand this situation. In your job, you are just carrying out the processes or rules that others above you have chosen. There may be good reasons for those rules and processes. But they may not be obvious to the public you are dealing with. Or those rules and processes may make life more difficult for that public. This is especially true if the rules or process have changed in a way seeming negative to that person. So since you are there, and those above you are not, you end up being on the receiving end of their frustration. But you have a job to do.
Having been on the receiving end of the public’s frustration with paying taxes for thirty years, I try to be sympathetic now that I am on the public side of this equation. But it’s difficult when you have been on the phone for thirty minutes, being passed around from person to person, trying to straighten out an insurance bill. It’s hard to remember that the person you are talking to is only following procedures and rules set up by others far above their pay grade. But I try. And there were several times when I was working with Revenue that I had taxpayers actually apologize after venting their frustrations. It was the system they were mad at, not me personally. They knew I was just doing my job.
This Tuesday is primary election day. And, as you have probably heard, there have been some changes in the voting process. If you voted during the early voting period, you have already seen the changes. Beginning this year, most voters will need to show an acceptable photo ID at the polls. For most voters, that acceptable ID will be a N.C. driver’s license or N.C. identification card. Although there are other forms of photo ID accepted, and some exceptions to the photo ID requirement, a driver’s license or N.C. ID card will probably be the most common form of identification used inorder to vote.
So there are some changes in voting this year. Some people may like the changes. Some may not. The voting process may take a little longer. But, since it is a primary election and not a general election, the wait at the polls to vote will probably not be that long.
The election itself is pretty interesting. The political parties will be selecting their candidates for the November general election. Locally, there are contests for two district court judge positions. There are also local school board races.
Then there are the presidential primaries, and the contests certainly have been entertaining. The current leader in the delegate count for the Democratic Party race is under investigation by the FBI. The current delegate leader in the Republican Party race is, well, Donald Trump. Yes, it’s entertaining, but in a scary movie sort of way.
Hopefully, everything will go smooth at the polls Tuesday. The N.C. Board of Elections states that, “All North Carolina election officials must consistently and uniformly carry out the laws, rules and policies of this state.” So the people working at the polls don’t make the rules. The folks down at the county Board of Elections don’t make the rules. Remember, they are just doing their job.
Mac McPhail, raised in Sampson County, lives in Clinton and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org