Someone at the voting site last week said, “I bet your column this week will be about the election.” That was an easy bet. After working many long hours during the early voting period and on election day, you bet there’s a column in there somewhere.
It would be easy to be negative concerning the election. There was the person who tried to vote twice, “just to see if I could.” Another individual, while in line to vote, made a loud comment that he heard about a group of people voting at one voting place and then going to another location and voting again. I think he thought he was being funny. I thought he was being something else. The last thing we needed was someone, in a lame attempt at humor, getting people anymore skeptical about the election process than they already were. The media and different political organizations were already doing a fine job of that. There was that person from an organization who constantly raised complaints about the voting and questioned the integrity of myself and the other employees working at the voting site. Before you get too self-righteous, the above examples were from people from both political parties.
Now that the election is over, I have a confession to make. I did have an agenda during the election. It was to make it through Tuesday night without the news satellite truck from WRAL sitting in front of the Board of Elections, or in front of the polling site where I worked.
But the positives of working during the election far outweigh the negatives. Helping people cast their vote is a good experience. And it’s always enjoyable to see familiar faces at the polls, from past and present; even if sometimes I can’t remember their name. And by election day, after helping thousands of people vote during the early voting period, I was so frazzled I could not even remember the name of a fellow poll worker. But I can’t help but remember a couple of voters.
One was Mr. Kenlaw. The elderly man walked into the polls at the Board of Elections, cast his ballot and walked out. Why do I remember him? Well, because he is 101 years old. Imagine what he has seen in his lifetime.
There was also the couple that came and voted early Thursday morning during early voting at the Board of Elections. The day before I had a frustrating experience at the Roseboro voting site and at that point I could care little about the voting process. As I was looking at his driver’s license, his wife said that they were excited about voting. (Don’t get in an uproar, I looked at his driver’s license because he had one of those names that was hard for me to spell, much less pronounce.) She said they had moved to the United States from Poland fifteen years ago and became U.S. citizens last year. That caught my attention since I had just been reading a book on how the church was involved in the fall of communism in Poland and eastern Europe. We talked a little after they had voted. She said they were living in Poland back when it was under communist domination. She said they did have some sort of elections then, but you knew your vote never really counted since the communists always won. They were still living in Poland during the tense times during the late 1980’s and were there when communists finally gave up power in the early nineties. She and her husband walked out after voting, smiling, with their “My Vote Counted” sticker on their lapel. And it did count.
That really puts it all in proper perspective, doesn’t it? We concluded an election Tuesday night and there were no tanks in the streets Wednesday morning. We need to value the election process and respect the outcome. That includes past elections, this election, and future elections. If not, we are just a short period of time from those dark days in communist Poland It looks like a little over 50 percent of the voters were pleased with the outcome of Tuesday’s election and a little less than 50 percent were not pleased. Whether you were pleased or not, remember that you live in a country where you can vote and your vote counts. And that is the result from Tuesday’s election that should please us all.