Whew! What a huge collective sigh of relief.
Democracy, based on free and fair elections, seems to be alive and well, in the process of recovery from the assaults upon it in recent years.
During the Nov. 8 mid-term elections, there were no reports of violence at any polling places, which had been feared and predicted by some. There were apparently no reports of harassment or intimidation of voters by self-styled extremist poll watchers. And, so far at least, there have been no clamorous claims of “stolen elections.”
There remain threats – threats from within and from without – to American democracy.
However, on Election Day, it was so gratifying to see scenes of election judges and other volunteers working so diligently at polling places throughout the nation, including right here in central Minnesota. In this state, as many as 30,000 election judges sign up to take training and then work temporarily during election times. They are “ordinary” Americans at the grassroots level who have made free and fair elections (thus, democracy) possible year after year throughout our long history.
They deserve our gratitude, our respect, our thanks.
The duties of election judges include the following: setting up the polling place, registering people to vote, ensuring all qualified voters are permitted to vote, handing out ballots to voters, double-checking voters are indeed properly registered, demonstrating the actual process of voting, assisting voters with any questions they might have, operating the voting equipment, tabulating results after the polls close and certifying the polling-place results.
It is very important work – intense, meticulous work that can exhaust election judges after a long day and evening. But they step forward year after year, true patriots eager and willing to make the foundation of democracy possible via free and fair elections.
Minnesotans have a reason to be proud. In many years, the number of the state’s eligible voters who went to the polls to cast their ballots topped all other states in the nation. Part of that success, no doubt, is due to Minnesota’s long insistence that the act of voting be easily accessible to any qualified person; that voting registration be convenient (without onerous hurdles); and that polling places be located within a reasonable distance of all residents.
Another reason for this state’s high voter turn-out is certainly due to the courteous, meticulous poll workers who make the voting process hassle-free for one and all.
And so, a big “Thank You” to all election judges and to all the others who work so hard to help ensure every person gets the right to cast votes, making it possible that representative democracy not only functions well but flourishes, well into the future.