And now the rest of the story...
To The Editor:
I guess we all learned this week how important each and every vote is, as the County Judge race between two great candidates, Gary Rosa and Carl Becker, came down to the wire. Although Becker pulled it out in a squeaker, it makes ever more important the question: Who are your Election Inspectors, and what do they do?
Thanks to the indulgence of Publisher Dick Sanford (who regularly tolerates my rants), I can share the rest of my Election Inspector story, which was inadvertently omitted from the November 14 issue.
I was dismayed because the part of the story that got left out was about the people I love to work with, and how we manage to have fun while doing a very serious job. So thanks Dick, for giving me the free inches. And away we go:
If you are wondering, how do election inspectors get through a 16-hour (or in the case of the primaries nine-hour) day? The actual work is fun, when you have some action: you have to find the voter in the poll book, initial the person’s signature and ballot number and keep a separate tabulated list of voters of your own. There are multiple checks and balances in place.
Once every hour or so, you see how many votes are on the machine and someone goes table by table to each election district to make sure the numbers match up. It’s harder than you think, once there are some spoiled or affadavit ballots in the mix. It’s not something you want to wait until 8:30 p.m. to do.
Election Inspector team-work
But the balance of the shift is a test of mental endurance, which is one reason I speculate that not many guys sign up for this job: to much sitting still, or at least, waiting for something to happen. But I have come to characterize my fellow election workers for what they, uniquely, bring to the table, especially as the day grows long and weary….
Most essential is Team Banter: champions in this realm never cease to come up with new jibs and jabs at each other, year after year, with an appreciative crowd egging them on. Kathy Sass and MaryEllen Schuman head up Team Banter, with side zingers from Deb Lalosh and Mary Hynes. Team Banter’s objective: keep us awake.
As is Team Cheerleader, of which I would count myself and Danielle Burrows. If we could bring pom-poms to the job, we would. We want people to Revel in the Wonder that is Democracy, 500 times a day! It just never gets old! In contrast to Team Banter, Team Cheerleader keeps people awake by annoying, rather than amusing, them.
Then there is Core Constituency, the women with extensive experience in making mind-blowing desserts, heavenly casseroles and how to tell the difference between an earache and a sinus infection. This is a tribe with tremendous survival lore and a lot of it gets shared on election day: in this group I would count Nancy Mattice, Margaret Finch, Sarah Cronk, MaryEllen Schuman, Kathy Sass, Sue Kuhlow, Barbara Vigna, Betty Sherwood — heck, just about everyone has something to contribute in that department but me. There are the Puzzlemeisters like Betty, Margaret and myself who will get happily immersed in crosswords for an hour or so, and a good slice of the day we catch up on births, sicknesses, deaths and who’s leaving for Florida when. And then Kathy makes Monkey Bread, and we all overdose on carmelized sugar, yeah USA!
Place your wagers, uh, your votes…
Then there is the illicit gambling. Yeah, there is betting afoot. In our ED (Denver/Vega) we always wager how many voters we will have by the end of the day. The loser has to bring something to eat to the next election, which they would have done anyway. The winner gets the satisfaction of being right.
And we all get the satisfaction of being part of the longest standing attempt at democratic governance by any nation, ever, in the history of the world. No matter the outcome, I and my fellow inspectors can be proud to say, “We played our part.”
Is this a recruitment speech? I don’t know, but I guess it ought to be. We are all getting a little creaky around the edges and stretched pretty thin. It might be nice to have some election inspectors with real entertainment skills (singers? dancers? impersonators?) to offer for those long November afternoons . . . And so my fellow Americans … (you can breathe a sigh of relief at that phrase, knowing that, like a Clinton State of the Union address) we have finally come to our promised end. God Bless America … and all her inspectors. You ought to join us. You’ll have a lot of fun, eat well, and help democracy, all at the same time!
Cheers from your
Roxbury Election Inspector,
Proud to be part of a team with: Sue Kuhlow, Pat Davis, Nancy Mattice, Barbara Vigna, Betty Sherwood, Margaret Finch, Katherine Sass, Deborah Lalosh, Sarah Cronk, Mary Hynes, MaryEllen Schuman and Danielle Burrows… and YOU?