Poll workers inspired by voters’ civility
When one volunteers to work at the polls, the hope is to make everything as efficient as possible for the voters moving through. What we experienced last Tuesday at the polls was nothing we expected or had ever experienced before. At the end of the day, we felt extremely proud of the citizens of the city of Waupaca.
We would like to share some of the things we observed during those hectic hours of voting time, which in the end extended to be 14 1/2 hours so we could accommodate people in line at 8 p.m.
• There was a long line of people ready to vote when the polls opened at 7 a.m.
• There were only two five minute periods all day when there were not substantial lines of people waiting to vote.
• The crowded room was mostly cheerful and upbeat. People brought their children with them, and despite those children moving along in line slowly with their parents, we were impressed by how good these children behaved, how patient their parents were.
• Speaking of children, many of you brought along children who then observed their parents voting. Children learn by what they see. Good for you.
• One couple happened to meet a total stranger at the taxi stop as they arrived to vote. They helped her into the building and made sure she had a wheel chair to use while in line, assisting her to the line. They alerted staff that she would need help as they had to go to a different ward’s line. The woman behind her in line (another total stranger to the woman) pushed the wheelchair for the woman and then called the taxi to come and pick her up at the end. One of our staff helped the woman to the taxi.
• A woman who will turn 101 in June was there voting. Young people, newly 18, were there voting.
• A woman noticed an elderly woman making her way through the line using a walker and alerted staff so that we were able to find her a place to sit until it was her turn to sign in and vote.
• Other people in line held spots for senior citizens who needed to sit in provided chairs but were then alerted when it was their turn to sign in and vote.
• People held other people’s babies so that the person could vote unencumbered.
• A woman, not even from the city of Waupaca, heard about the long lines of voters and brought cookies, which she handed out to people in line, along with a young man handing out bottles of water.
• Laughter was heard. Jokes were being told. People hugged neighbors they hadn’t seen in a while. Babies were admired. Waupaca residents met each other.
• Time after time, voters took the extra time to thank staff for volunteering. We hope you know how very much those sentiments of “thank you” meant to us.
Poll workers work very hard to keep things efficient, but there are many governmental rules that we are required to follow, and making an error may cause major trouble when we reconcile at the end of the day, so we try to serve each voter efficiently and accurately.
We election inspectors are studying changes we can do to make your voting experience more efficient. We hope to see you again at the polling place in the Recreation Center on Aug. 9 and on Nov. 8.
So, thank you, city of Waupaca residents. We saw a great many of you putting your best selves forward on Tuesday, voting, caring and being patient with the process. It is a day we will all remember and refer to in the future. Way to go, Waupaca! You definitely lived out what our local school children are being taught by doing it the “Waupaca Way.”