We arrived at the polls in spite of the deluge that greeted us yesterday morning. As I've noticed before, it seemed all the people who volunteered at my polling place, (this time a Presbyterian church less than a mile from where I'm living,) were easily in their upper sixties and older. I overheard one tell someone she'd gotten up at 4:30. Eek. I'm not a morning person. Nothing about the idea of getting up that early appeals to me. Particularly on a day with that much rain.
But then I found myself standing in line, looking around. The setup and the flow in the room were just horrid. People didn't know where to go, what exactly to do when they walked in the door. There was this long line just to the door, I had gotten my umbrella put down and was trying to squeeze in to let another woman in out of the cold. The line just stood there, but I noticed tables, halfway down, one on either side of that line, each marked with a letter of the alphabet. A-K on the right, and L-Z on the left. After we stood around for a minute, another voter volunteered that all voters needed to go to the table sporting the letter that corresponded to our last names. Where they would check in and receive their authorization to vote. Aah. That's a handy tidbit to have!
It was tricky getting to the tables, what with all those people in line. And some of them, as it turns out, hadn't yet gone to get their authorization to vote, either. So although they were there before me, I got my authorization first. Twinges of guilt appeared, particularly when the senior gentleman who eventually stood behind me admitted that he'd stood there for 15 minutes before he'd realized he had to leave the line and go sign in for authorization.
So I stood there, not intentionally self-righteous or snotty, but mentally rearranging the room, placing signs here, volunteers there, wondering why these tables were easily 10 feet beyond where they might have been had I, (in that imaginary scenario running through my head,) placed them in the most efficient location. I'm one of those kind of people, see. It's not meant to be bossy. I'm a "doer," and am used to jumping in and helping to make things efficient. That's all!
But another thought came to me, and I'm happy to say it didn't take me very long to recognize that thought, either. "You can't criticize the setup. You've done nothing to contribute. Sure, you're gonna' vote and get your little sticker that proves you're a member of the 'I Voted' club, and wear it proudly, but you haven't done anything to make things easier for anyone here." And in a subsequent discussion with my friend with whom I had gone to vote, I learned of another friend who's been volunteering and who mentions how heavy some of the booths are and how some of the senior volunteers have to struggle to manage the weight. And of some of the other challenges I might not struggle with at all, which are tricky for the seniors who volunteer.
The very youthful teens managing the Kid's Voting booth were the only exceptions to the "run by seniors" rule. But they were seemingly oblivious to anything beyond their own tables, far over at the right side of the room, away from much of the bustle.
It hit me this year for the first time that it's never really occurred to me to volunteer in such a capacity before.
So, hmmm. Remember how "they say" you shouldn't offer your objections to a situation without being willing and able to provide some sort of solution? Seems to me they're right. So I guess I've got a while to do my research, but somewhere in two years, at around 4:30am, another alarm clock will be going off. This time, I think it needs to be mine.