These are my Facebook posts during my first ever experience as a poll worker. I highly recommend working the polls and I will definitely be doing it again!
I’m reading my poll worker manual, setting my focus on tomorrow and every day through Oct 30. Here’s a nice paragraph for that focus ~
“Amid long hours and strict deadlines, you must continue to provide gracious customer service. A cool head and sense of humor will ensue your success! You must be thorough, accurate, and pay attention to detail to avoid disenfranchising voters.”
I saw a t-shirt yesterday that said "VOTE LIKE YOUR ANCESTORS DIED FOR IT", worn by a black woman who walked with a cane who brought her grandchildren with her. They were radiating integrity and I had some chills. The long story was embodied in them. (sometimes generational story really shows up and makes me goosebumpy)
I loved seeing all the kids at the polling place! They were shiny and present and had things to say. Some of them voluntarily told me their names and some danced and played with each other while their adults voted, some stood with their adults as they made their selections.
I get to do it again today and another 16 days after that!
Yesterday at the polls I was stationed for a while at the scanner/deposit box. It was a celebratory place to be! People were SO relieved to have cast their votes and we had lots of cheering, congratulating, clapping going on over there.
I was making sure people put their ballot on the GREEN arrow because it works better than the gray one below it. I was giving people their coveted stickers and reminding them to toss the finger cot into the trashcan. Eventually a woman told me that people were keeping their finger rubbers to take pictures with them and posting on social media. From then on I reminded everyone they could either toss it there or keep it as a voting memento and maybe even take a selfie with their voter finger. A lot of people did keep them and we had some cute laughs together.
VOTE! Lines are not as long since Tuesday. You'll probably be in and out in no time and it will feel SO GOOD!
Yes, there were tears at the polling place today. Sweet emotion.
I've been having the honor to assist some first-time voters through the process. Each one has made an impact on my heart.
A smiling Latina woman (smiles radiate thru masks) who looked maybe in her late 50s leaned in and whispered to me, "I've never done this before" and I said "I will help you." ... After her ballot was printed and we started to walk down to the scanner, her whole posture seemed bigger and she wasn't whispering anymore. She told me that she had always thought it just wasn't something she did, but now knows that she can vote too.
As she was talking it seemed her words were correcting the internalized message carried all those years. She was sharing a part of her private history with me, about that belief that told her she wasn't a person that voted. She said something like "It was easy. Now that I've done it, I really don't know why I never did it before." And now she's a voter! There was such integrity and relief shining out of her. A transformation. Even as I'm writing, I feel it.
It's inspiring to be at the polls with every person that comes. Some people bring heart gifts with them. I'm forever changed.
I want to preface this story from the polling place with this: I’ve been naming a few people’s race/ethnicity in the stories. That’s because we are voting over here and there are few things more meaningful than people showing up for representation, particularly those who are not historically well represented. To put it gently.
An older black woman came to the ballot scanner. She said that she really hopes it goes well and I said ‘there’s so much energy for it’. Then she closed her eyes and prayed right there, and I swear the air got still for a few moments. She was fully serious. It was like spirit came into gravity and it was felt. It was strong!
Yesterday just after I got to the polls one of my co-workers called me over to help someone get started. He was a fairly muscular black man wearing a mask w/ a colorful design on it.
He told me he's 47 and never voted before and expressed some embarrassment. ... After he made his selections and printed his ballot, I joined him for the ceremonial walk down the skating rink/basketball court to put it in the scanner. I started asking him how it went at the machine and then saw that he had tears in his eyes and he said "I feel very proud"... and then we were both crying and looking at each other and talking some more. He said "This morning I told my girlfriend that I felt nervous about today" (about voting for the first time)... and then... "I have a voice"... !!!
Such a beautiful human.
Yesterday we had a whole lot of first time voters. A lot of emotion and a lot of connection. There's a sea change, friends.
We're in the homestretch for early voting! Don't wait!
Yesterday I started just asking everyone how they feel as they cast their ballots and many people shared a LOT in very short time. A young white woman lifted her hands in a prayer and looked up, in tears. She and I had a little time just feeling it together, appreciating. It was fear and hope. I wonder what she's been going through.
A black woman sat at the resolution desk for a while and then walked to the exit. She said she's been in the military and because she missed responding to an address change a few years ago her voting registration was purged. That felt really sad and frustrating. Her boyfriend had already voted and was waiting for her at the door with me. We'd been talking and laughing, admiring his fantastic tortoise shell glasses.
All citizens ought to be automatically registered voters in this country. Why not? It specially angers me that someone can serve in the military and be purged. There is a limited ballot that is available to people who have moved away from where they're registered, allowing everyone to at least vote for the higher offices.
We had a young white couple who were not trusting the process. It took 4 of us poll workers to interact with them in various ways since they had a lot of questions that were not really questions but accusations. It was unsatisfying for everyone. I'm still siting with it, being on the receiving end of the angst that is also here. And it's easy to write off people when they're uncontained in angst. They brought that reminder like a neon sign, about the despair that can be masked through a lifetime of practice. I'm sure I've seen that many times at the ballot casting machine - the masking. I felt it in the woman who had been purged after being in the military. She didn't put it on her sleeve but it was there.
I want to give room in myself for it all and be part of the change toward dignity. We all need to belong.
We have one more week!
Ventana Ballet is doing small performances around town at the polls today! This is at Millennium now! (video attached)
We’re much busier than we’ve been for days and days.
It’s looking good for democracy!
We had our first person to come through not wearing a mask. A couple of others have asked upon arrival if we had masks they could have since they forgot theirs. We do! Glad to be able to help with that! But the person who didn’t ask seemed unconcerned. He had his mouth hanging open the entire time, mouth breathing into the air. He seemed pretentious, too, which is always unimpressive to me.
I know an entire household here in Austin that was just diagnosed with Covid. Some of them have been galavanting around and now they’re sick. Covid is not gone. It’s on the rise again.
And again, even if you have an impressive list of daily supplements, you do pranayama all day long, your immune system is awesome and you don’t get symptoms... you can still pass Covid-19 to others who might not be as fortunate as you.
Just wear a mask.
Especially when you go to the polls to vote, where a lot of people in all sorts of conditions are TRUSTING their fellow citizens with their health because they are concerned about mailing their ballots due to all the smearing and blocking of voting by mail... Please wear a mask. It’s what we’re doing right now to care for each other because masks reduce the spread of Covid, which can severely affect and kill people...
It has felt really good to be working the polls, helping people feel welcome, important and SAFE to vote. A lot of older voters have commented about the risk they had to take. It’s important that we all add to the sense of trust.
Please respect your fellow voters and wear a mask at the polls.
...That was the last post. It goes without saying, this has been a strange long year. Today is December 29th and late October feels like 2 years ago. We DO have a new President Elect as well as many new and returning public servants. I'm choosing to call them public servants, as a reminder... We STILL have tremendous division and challenge to face. We CAN face our reality and keep stepping in the direction of dignity and health for us all. We ARE NOT separate in reality.