I have taken my children to the polls since they were babies. They have all watched me spin the dial. They have all taken a turn pushing the big button at the end of the ballot. We frequently see the same poll workers. We always see our neighbors and the parents of our children’s classmates. Standing in line to vote, strangers talk sports, food and weather. My oldest child worked the polls for a few years when he was fresh out of high school. The workers giggled when I snuck a picture of my child working his very first job. Polling places are the calmest, friendliest atmosphere imaginable after campaigns of all manner of ridiculousness. I say places instead of place because I invariably end up dropping off or picking up children from school activities at polling places other than my own. I frequently drive people to polls that are not in my neighborhood. I fear no precinct here. I trust the dedication of all the poll workers. They are our community members.
How are all these Watchers and Monitors going to help? It won’t help to question someone’s citizenship based on their appearance. That is confirmed via photo ID and the giant notebooks of that precinct’s eligible voters. It won’t help to ask people to tell you who they voted for because that is none of your beeswax. In fact, I will use a colorful metaphor that asks you to do something specific to yourself if you ask me about my voting choices. Stomping around with guns on your hips and backs won’t help and will get you arrested for intimidation.
The only problem I have ever seen at our polling places is broken voting machines. I guess you could stand watch for broken machines and call them in for repairs, but since the polling place is full of workers trained to handle this, you’ll only succeed in tying up the lines to the Election Commission and slowing down response time.
Okay, sometimes they don’t have “I voted” stickers. Order more stickers, Election Commissions. When there aren’t stickers, I have to write “I voted” on my hand in Sharpie. Do you know how hard that is to wash off skin?
Do you want to be a voting helper instead of a hindrance? Make sure your family and friends are registered to vote. Drive people to the DMV to make sure they have a valid photo ID with correct residency information on it. Drive people to the polls. While at the polls, be kind to your fellow human beings.
My paternal grandmother’s proudest accomplishment in her small town Tennessee Republican Women’s Club was getting the deceased voters off the voting registries. Not because they thought that those dead people were voting, but to make voting faster and easier. Use some common sense. Make things better, not worse.