Be nice to poll workers

Voting by mail is easy. All you need to do is mark your choice and stick the ballot in a mailbox or drop box. Easy-peasy.

Of course, you can also go vote in person on election day if you are willing to risk what has become a scary task. Given all the grief and threats that election workers now face, I’m surprised there are any left who are willing to risk life, limb, and reputation to keep America a freely voting nation.

Maybe it’s because I’m old and was raised in a day and age when going to vote was a sacred American rite of passage. My grandparents came from a country in which they had no choice about who was in charge. They had no vote. So, when they came to America, voting became an honored tradition. It meant you had a say in something so important that you could barely wrap your head around it – you were getting to choose who would lead the country, city, or state. That was enormous.

Of course, none of that happened without both paid and volunteer workers on Election Day. These poll workers kept their clothes on and their dignity intact. At least, they did up until the last presidential election. Then things suddenly seemed to change and what had been a fairly simple task that took up one day every few years became a threat to the workers’ safety and security. Trying to get volunteers to work the polls at voting sites suddenly seems to require hazardous pay and flak jackets.

The same thing is going on with our judicial system. Suddenly taking a job as a judge’s clerk means risking your life and reputation. And that’s just so wrong. So horribly, horribly wrong.

Poll workers, court clerks – these are just people doing something for which they are either not paid or paid much too little to risk their lives to stay employed.

What has happened to America that two of our most sacred institutions – our courts and our elections – have become hazardous duty for anyone working them.

Look at the juror in Trump’s hush money trial who asked to be excused because people had figured out what jury she was on, and she was already feeling pressure. Threats would not be far behind. How do we find jurors in the future if they know that participating in the judicial process could threaten their lives and welfare to say nothing of their family’s safety.

There is nothing we can do here in Anchorage to change what is going on in a Manhattan courtroom. But there is something we can do here in Anchorage about scaring away the very people who are critical to making our democracy work. We can be polite. That’s it. Polite. Seems simple but a lot of people find it hard to do. No one is asking you to give up your political leaning or who you vote for. But I am asking that you do that with the understanding that election workers are not the enemy. So, they do not deserve your anger, your yells, or your threats.

Polls will be open starting May 7 through May 14 with a day off for Mother’s Day. There will be workers at every polling place. They are there to check you in, help with your questions and see to it that your voting experience is the best it can be. So how about if we decide ahead of time that we should all treat these poll workers with kindness and respect. Despite all the screaming and yelling after the last presidential campaign, it should be pointed out that NO amount of cheating was committed by these people. They simply said hello, checked you in and wished you a good day.

So, let’s return the favor and treat them as nicely. Voting generally starts early in the morning and goes until early evening from May 7 through May 14 with a day off for Mother’s Day. If you have any questions or need more information about voting places, drop boxes, etc. you can call 907-243-VOTE or go to [email protected].

Just remember. It doesn’t cost you anything to be a decent human being to poll workers. If you’re not, we may not have any willing volunteers in the future. Then what happens to our democracy?