I served as an election judge yesterday. It wasn't my first time as an election judge, but it was certainly a memorable one. The turnout this year was tremendous -- roughly 82% of the eligible voters in my precinct came out to vote. Many were college students who registered to vote at the polls. Especially noticeable were the high numbers of Somali and African-American voters who have been under-represented in past elections. It was heart-warming to see how long people were willing to wait to exercise their right to vote. Even the children were patient while waiting in line.
The role of an election judge isn't the sexiest of prospects, and it is an exhausting 15+ hours, but it is gratifying. It provides an opportunity to contribute to the election process in a non-partisan way. We do declare a party affiliation to ensure that major parties are represented at each polling location, but the partisan conversation stops there. Before opening the polls, we recite and sign the following oath:
"I _________ solemnly swear that I will perform the duties of election judge according to law and the best of my ability and will diligently endeavor to prevent fraud, deceit and abuse in conducting this election. I will perform my duties in a fair and impartial manner and not attempt to create an advantage for my party or for any candidate."
I take this oath seriously and am honored by the opportunity to perform these duties alongside others who do too. The work of candidate and issue campaigns is important and central to our process, but at times the hype can be over-stimulating and distracting, overshadowing the greater goals of democracy. It is not us versus them, or us versus them and those others, or this versus that, or anything else. It is us. Period. We live together. We work together. We learn together. And we grow together. We must respect and rely on one another to do anything worth doing. Let us continue to find ways to engage in meaningful dialogue and work in partnership.