We have a big country and often our everyday encounters are impersonal. We can be fooled into thinking our vote does not count. I do not believe this.Those of us who have personal contact with voters on election day can do much to dispel this belief and foster the turnout by doing little things that make people look forward to election day rather than seeing it as a duty they would like to avoid.I have been an Precinct Inspector for a number of years, although I have not always been assigned the same precinct. But most of the time I have worked the precinct at St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Saratoga, CA. This small quaint church, located on a quiet neighborhood street, is both a challenging and an ideal place for voting. The people in the neighborhood are well educated and care–often passionately–about issues. Over the years I have come to know many of the long-time residents of the precinct and have become acquainted with many of the newcomers who are often from other countries. I am committed to making the voting experience important, exciting, and pleasurable to all of them. How do you do this? Here is a list of some things I think are important.
- Talk to people as they come in. Be friendly and…
- Listen and have an answer to any problems they have about voting. This means paying attention during the training (excellent in Santa Clara County, CA) so you know the answers or know how to find them.
- Follow the rules, but politely, by explaining any of them that may not be apparent to the voter. (For example, no political conversation or advertising on T-shirts or buttons.)
- Do not allow private conversations between election officers to go on while voters are present. All attention should be on voters, making sure their needs are fulfilled and treating them like welcome friends.
- Thanking voters (who also often thank you for being there).
And I have a couple of other aces-in-the-hole that might not be for everyone.
I take a small red, white, and blue flower arrangement to put on the table with the literature. In the past I have had garden flowers, but because of our drought this year I didn’t have any. So I had a local florist, Floral Fantasia, make one for me. I have a great red vase and this talented local sole proprietor made a wonderful. arrangement for me. Her shop is less than a half a mile from the polling place and I was happy to help promote her business.
I always provide trail mix as a “reward” for our voters. And this year we had some early voters come back in to donate their leftover Halloween candy to us to give to other voters.
Every election we are busy with many familiar faces streaming in to cast their ballots or to drop off their mail-in ballots. This year, predicted to be a slow one, was no exception. Our Field Inspector who was overseeing five other nearby polling places reported to us that we had more than double the number of voters of any of the other precincts. We were busy all day. It was great to see and talk to so many familiar faces. It is my goal as a Precinct Inspector to make our precinct the best in Santa Clara County and to have our voters eager to return for the next election.