Tuesday, February 16, 2021
It was late in the afternoon. I was helping out during the state primary election, working at the poll station for a ward in a nearby city. Out of nearly one thousand registered voters, there I sat, masked, behind a huge, thick, plexiglass barrier, wondering if even one hundred would show up to vote.
A twenty-something woman stepped up to the table and, presenting her ID, muttered her name. I gestured that I could not hear her. Instead of speaking up, she removed her mask, revealing a round face, deep brown eyes, and plump cheeks that dimpled nicely when she smiled.
Her smiled faded as she scanned the ballot, listing all the candidates. “But I don’t know these people,” she said with an accent I could not place.
“Then just vote for the ones you DO know,” I suggested. Then more seriously I added, “You need not vote for any of them.”
She nodded soberly, picked up her ballot, and walked over to one of the blue voting booths. For a moment more she studied the list of candidates, then, her decision made, retrieved her phone from her jacket pocket, rested an index finger on a name, and started pressing buttons.
Nearly fifteen minutes later a fellow poll worker whispered, “She’s still standing there. Do you think I should see if she needs help?”
At that point I glanced over at the voter. She was holding her phone up before her face, reading a page of text off it. “I don’t think so. She’s researching,” I realized. And so she was. A few voters came and went in the next twenty minutes or so as she finished studying the positions of the various candidates. Then she shut down her phone, tucked it away, picked up her ballot and turned toward me. Smiling, I nodded to her, and she nodded back.
She inserted her ballot in the tally machine, and as she left the room she swung by my table. I detected more than a hint of pride in her voice as she said, “This is very good.”
“Yes, this is very good,” I thought as she walked away.