The Polls

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Hi friends.

Sorry I have been remiss in my communications to you. I think we have all been busy, at least in one specific way. I look forward to not being that kind of busy again soon.

I wanted to tell you about my experience working the polls last week. It was my first time doing it, and I absolutely loved it, even if the day lasted nearly sixteen (!) hours. I volunteered to work the polls because I felt like there had been a lot of build up (incorrectly) to the election on social media with regards to the voting system being flawed, and I wanted to do my part to ensure the integrity of the process. I didn’t realize I would get so much out of it in return.

The first piece of good news: I worked at my own polling location, which meant I could walk there in the morning instead of maybe having to drive crosstown at 5 am. And I was guaranteed to see some people I knew, which meant I could cheer them on for doing their civic duty. It was a joy to see my neighbors participating in the process.

The best part of the day was witnessing how many families voted together. There were lots of mothers and daughters showing up with each other, and I was also really touched to see younger children coming with their parents to watch them vote. Two eighteen-year-olds showed up separately, obviously voting for their first time, and they were both shy and nervous and excited. One of them, a young man, came in with his mother, and she told us she was proud of him for doing it.

My favorite family had eight members, seven of whom were young men that showed up at various times spread out across the day, and then one older woman who came mid-day. Early in the evening, the final young man in the family showed up, and I commented he was the last of the family to check in. He said, “Yeah, my grandmother always makes sure we vote!”

There was also something special about interacting with so many people at once after having lived such a small and quiet life for all these months. Everyone obeyed social distancing and PPE protocols, which helped me to appreciate it more.

I was so happy to connect with my community in that way; I truly love the neighborhood where I live. Bakeries dropped off treats for us. Everyone said thank you. We all appreciated each other. It was just a fun energy, no matter what goal the voter might have had at the booth. It was one of the more memorable times I’ve had in my life in New Orleans – which is saying a lot.

I just wanted to add that everyone I worked with was super professional and very clearly honored to be there. There was no cynicism, just optimism and excitement, and a commitment to doing a good job. I admired the people I worked with so much. They all came from different backgrounds, had different careers — it was just a diverse group of people coming together for one positive reason. Sometimes I worry that this country is sick, that we may never recover. But that day, it felt healthy to me.

Be well, everyone.

Jami