Punching the Clock: Get out the vote

It’s been said that in reality, there’s no such thing as not voting. You either vote by voting, or you vote by not voting, thereby doubling the value of someone else’s vote.

Yesterday, millions of voters nationwide showed their eagerness to get out and vote as they headed to the polls. To kick-off my first contribution the newly resurrected “Punching the Clock” series, I braved my way through the forest of political campaign signs invading the streets of Norwich to lend a helping hand to Chenango County poll workers at the City of Norwich polling site at St. Bartholomew’s Parish Center on East Main Street – the busiest of the 22 polling stations in Chenango County.

As an untrained, uncertified, and unofficial poll worker, my responsibilities were limited (out of concern that I might break our country’s electoral process). Understandable. After all, I don’t want to mess up voting for everyone. Nevertheless, I was more than welcomed by the Chenango County Board of Elections to observe how the well-oiled machine that is the local electoral process operates.

“This is always a long day for poll workers,” explained Harriet Jenkins, Republican Commissioner for the Chenango County Board of Elections. When I arrived at the Parish Center just before 11 a.m., most poll workers had already kept their nose to the grindstone for six hours, and all were working a shift that wouldn’t end until 9:30 p.m., when polls closed and all ballots were accounted for. So armed with a sense of nationalism, community mindedness, and plenty of caffeine, they settled in for a 15-hour workday and made room for me to join them.

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