// March 8th, 2012 // No Comments » // people, politics
Every election day, I go to my community polling place to vote. I know with complete certainty that the workers have diverse political viewpoints, but not because we talk about it in that setting. One of the workers always recognizes me and asks about the children. While standing in line, most of us joke about food, weather, pop culture, and everything except politics. Somewhere in the line is one of my neighbors. My children play with classmates whose parents are waiting their turn to vote. Before I leave the building, I always see school administration keeping a quiet eye on the voting activity in their facility. Voting is a pleasant gathering of the members of my real-life community.
On this year’s Super Tuesday, the exceptions to the rule were out and about.
While most of us made sure to wear nothing political, avoid political chatter, read the sample ballot before entering the voting area, and have our ID ready, some people arrived ready to express dissatisfaction with anything and everything. An older woman accused the young man sitting at the registration table of trying to steal her social security number. Someone else lectured the worker because he didn’t like the check boxes asking if voters want an R or D ballot. One person in line complained that she shouldn’t have to wait, because she “has a life.” A woman shrieked that poll workers don’t deserve to get paid for making her wait in line and then she went to the workers’ break area and ate a worker’s lunch.
I don’t know if the disgruntled voters were really distressed because they didn’t like the choices on the ballot, hate that the machines have dials instead of a touch screen, or just had low blood sugar from skipping breakfast. I know for certain that the rest of us were merrily enjoying the privilege and responsibility to vote while the poll workers politely accepted the abuse that they did not deserve. Are the workers adults capable of coping with difficult people? Yes. Are people allowed to behave like that at the polls? Yes. Does that make it right? No. Just because you CAN be a jerk to employees at the polls, or anywhere else, doesn’t mean you SHOULD take your issues out on them.
One man offered a photocopy of his license as his ID. When the poll worker recited the acceptable forms of ID, the man calmly pulled his license from his pocket. He wanted to better understand the new ID law and he did so without being rude or creating a scene. If he had skipped his breakfast, maybe he would have taken his disapproval of the ID law out on the poll worker. The poll worker would not have argued. The poll worker would only call the police and a giant fuss could have interrupted everyone else’s ability to vote. It would have accomplished nothing.
While the viral video of the TN soldier, who has an acceptable military ID if he shops in the Commissary, was an obvious planned protest of the voter ID law, the poll worker he harangued really did NOT deserve that abuse. That behavior should have been saved for the halls of the elected Tennessee officials. Should the workers quit to protest the new ID law or something else that elected officials have concocted to fix problems that don’t exist? Only if they don’t want to work the polls in the future. Working at the polls is more than a job. It is an important part of the election process. Don’t make the workers feel as miserable as you feel. Let their sense of pride and pleasure in being a voter melt your icicles.