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Volunteers on the Front Line

Aiden McLean (Reporter, 21’)

Whether or not you keep up to date with politics, there is no denying that this may be one of the most important and historic elections in our nation’s history. The worst pandemic in a hundred years is keeping us locked in our homes, cries for racial justice and equality echo down city streets, wildfires are burning across the West Coast, and watching golf is still boring. It is important that Americans vote in this election, but this pandemic has drastically changed how Americans can vote this year. Rather than talk about the beaten horse, that is the mail-in ballot system, (still haven't gotten my ballot!) I am going to address a topic that, strangely, has been overlooked: volunteer poll workers on Election Day. These brave people are putting aside their fears of COVID to help continue our nation’s greatest right: the ability to vote! Here are interviews with three individuals, from our very own FCS, who have decided to volunteer as poll workers in this year’s election. Let the polls open!

Art by Lavinia Wang '22

Focus: Where are you going to be volunteering?

Allison Foley (21’): Montgomery County

Ben Allen (21’): Delaware County in Springfield, probably at my home precinct, which is at the Springfield Township building.

Hallie Bender (‘21): I live in Philadelphia county, so I am going to volunteer at one of the Philadelphia polls. There are a few right around here, so one of those places.

Focus: What kind of work do you expect you will be doing at the polls?

AF: I’m not quite sure. I know it could be from 5 am to 10 pm. I’m probably going to be helping guide people along, show people where to go, and help the line move along. Just because I am only in high school, they might give the more advanced jobs to older people. I’m going with my mom, and we’re going to a training session on the 15th to learn more about it.

BA: I know from past experience, going in with my parents to the polls, that there is usually someone at the table taking registrations; so I would imagine that I would be doing that. More of that sort of thing.

HB: They haven't given me my actual assignment yet, but there are a few possibilities. One of them is a machine worker, maintaining the machines, making sure they are working the whole time, and keeping up with that. I could be checking-in people, I could be outside maintaining social distancing, or I could be helping people actually register to vote at the polls.

Focus: Do you feel there is any risk in volunteering because of COVID-19 or poll watchers?

AF: Yeah, I mean with COVID there is inherently a risk just ‘cause it’s a group of people, but we’re going to stay as safe as we possibly can by keeping masks on and staying far away from people if that’s possible. I don’t really know what’s going to happen with poll watchers. I’ve heard that’s kind of an issue. I don’t know in what form that comes, like if it’s groups of people? I think that if that’s the case, it might be an issue, and I think they might need to figure out how to get those people to leave. Not only just ‘cause it’s sketchy, but also ‘cause there’s no need to have extra people in a building, right now especially. If they don’t need to be there, then they shouldn’t be there.

BA: Because thousands of people would be interacting on that day, it’s statistically likely that one of them has COVID. I want to protect myself and my family the best way I can, so I’ll wear a face shield, if possible. I’m not too worried about poll watchers. I have faith that I won’t have any issue with that. 

HB: There is always the concern of being anywhere in public, but some things, I think, need to overrule my fear ‘cause this is such an important election for everyone. It’s the most important election I’ve lived through; so I think that this is one thing that I can do to sort of get over my fear to be out in public, while still maintaining safety, of course. 

Focus: Why do you want to volunteer at the polls this November?

AF: I think that they want as much help as they can get, and if I can help, then I want to. My mom and I are pretty politically involved, and I think it’s just an important thing to be a part of in any way you can. This is me contributing in a way I can.

BA: I really want to vote, but I am not eighteen yet; and I really wanna find some way to help the democratic process, besides voting. I think that this will be a good way to do that.

HB: My aunt is one of the people running one of the main polling places in Chester County, and she has always been a big part of that, asking family members to help out and stuff. I didn’t really realize the shortage of poll worker volunteers until this year, and I was like, “I can’t vote, so I need to make a difference somehow ‘cause I really care about this election.” It’s kind of like my main way to do that I guess.

Focus: Anything else you would like to declare or say?

AF: I don’t know. I’m excited. It’s going to be a weird feeling. I’m not sure what to expect really. It might feel a little ominous. It might feel really kind of confusing. Nobody’s dealt with an election quite like this before; so I am nervous, and I am excited. 

BA: I would just encourage everyone who reads the article to go out and vote, if they’re eligible.

HB: Go vote!

I’d like to end this article by saying, whether you or your family hold liberal or conservative views, and regardless of who you support to be our president, please go out and vote, or at least encourage others who can to do so. Our right to vote is a glorious privilege, and we Americans should not let it go to waste. We have a say in what our lives and country will look like. Also, please have conversations with others about what is going on in our country to promote discussion and debate, which can lead to compromise and new ideas. When we talk, we should be allowed to disagree, but don’t hate someone because they’re Red or Blue. See beyond the colors of their party, and understand who they truly are. If we don’t communicate, we only become more divided.

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