I had set my alarm for 4 a.m. Tuesday morning and gone to bed at 10 p.m. What I was going to wear and what I was going to take with me was planned. I got my bath before bed. I was ready.
At 4:36 a.m. Reggie called me. "Are you awake?" He asked.
"I am now!" I replied. The alarm had not gone off or I had slept through it. Now you must know I never set an alarm. I always get up in plenty of time between 6 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. each morning, week day or week end. Therefore, like a whirling dervish I dressed, got my vitamins, put on my shoes and left the house as Reggie called me again, "I'm on my way, are you?"
I was on my way.
The sky is interesting looking in the city at 5 a.m. It glows with a pale yet dark blue tint. I drove to the polling place about a mile away and got there at 5:15 a.m., which is the time we are expected. I say expected because when we take poll worker training before each election this is stressed. "You must be there at 5:15 a.m. to get everything set up." The problem Tuesday, was the person with the key to the building had decided to stop for coffee and a breakfast sandwich at McDonalds. I hadn't made coffee or stopped. I didn't have time!
No, I did not rip her head off or even accidentally turn over the cup of coffee. I got to work.
Oh, as an added note, this woman was a long time poll worker at this precinct. I was new to the precinct. There were two high, soft cushioned chairs. She got one. Another long term worker got the other. The rest of us crouched on folding metal chairs. I asked her in my indoor projective voice, "Where did you get those nice chairs?" Everyone had noticed and also paid attention to her answer. "They were here when I got here," was her innocent reply. Butter would have not melted in her mouth she was so innocent.
In spite of this minor drama the group of poll workers from the two main parties worked convivially all day. I vowed though, next time I am going to have coffee and I'm going to immediately get inside and search for those two chairs!
We got the place set up and were ready at 6 a.m. The day went fine with a light turn out and very few delays when more than one person was at the table signing in.
I was surprised and delighted at the number of first generation citizens voting. They all knew English and had drivers licenses and were polite and smiling. In more than one incidence they were voting for the first time. We got people who were old. We got people who could barely walk. I noticed that in these two groups, the voters were proud to vote. It wasn't a nuisance or unwelcomed chore. It was a celebration to them.
There was a man who came in and seemed to want to start a controversy by asking we workers provocative questions. I tried to make light of his fervor. He engaged a male worker from the other precinct and they were getting loud blocking people coming in. Everyone looked about and at each other waiting for someone to stop them. Finally I called out the name of the poll worker and told him, "You know you are not supposed to debate or discuss politics in a polling place." He said he didn't know that. Another of the poll workers in my precinct had been reading the worker manual to have something to do and spoke up, "Yes that's right. It's against the rules."
I said, "Perhaps you two would like to meet up later over coffee."
The guy show started it said, "It wouldn't be coffee. It would be tea."
I laughed and said, "I don't care if it's beer."
The rest of the day the only controversies were the people who were registered Libertarian or Non-Partisan that go upset when the only race they could vote in was the non-partisan judge office. We explained since they were not affiliated with a party and there were no non-partisan candidates, they weren't able to vote for the major races. In the fall General Election they can vote. I noticed a letter to the editor in today's paper about this issue. Some states have open primaries but Kentucky does not.
We closed up at 6 p.m. and got everything balanced and put away. I was home in time to see the last fifteen minutes of the national news. I made myself a big cup of strong coffee and caught up on things I missed while away from home.
Working at the polls is a rewarding experience. You cannot do it for the pay and you are not allowed to use your position to influence who people vote for. But the smooth and fair process of voting in America is due largely to those who volunteer to work the polls. If you have never worked at the polls, you should. Most employers will give you the day off with notice. It makes me proud to be a citizen.
Now, as I remove my poll worker robes I turn to the subject of Dr. Rand Paul.
I don't know this man's personal history. I know he is a Texan and that his first name is because his father Ron Paul was enamored of Ayn Rand, the Russian émigré who was the American proponent of egoism and reason; a laissez-faire capitalism and limited government. Since he has followed the lead of his father starting Kentucky Taxpayers United (KTU), a state version of his father's national organization, it is assumed this means he is not for collectivism or working for the common good. I cannot imagine America being based on egoism any more than it already is.
Dr. Paul was chosen by the majority of voting Republicans to represent the GOP against the winner of the Democratic Primary, Jack Conway. They are running to fill the Senate seat now occupied by Jim Bunning our junior senator, known most prominently for being a good baseball player. Since then Paul has been the media darling. I woke up Wednesday to his interview with a CBS reporter at 8 a.m. He said at that time he had been up since 4 a.m. taking interviewer's questions. The day continued to proceed with his face in all the papers, his voice on NPR radio and his face on television broadcasts.
By 9 p.m. he was returning to the MSNBC cable news show where he had announced his candidacy last year. In front of Rachel Maddow he began answering questions. She had heard his NPR interview and knew what her questions had to be. Despite his experience on radio he was still unprepared. I believe he answered with the guile he possessed but not enough to keep from showing his true feelings on the matter of Civil Rights.
The next day, Thursday, he was backtracking and trying to explain that he was misunderstood and taken advantage of by the "liberal media". Yet, he continued to state he thought the right for a black person to buy a hamburger at any restaurant should be the decision of he owner of the restaurant.
I got that déjà vu all over again; had Sen. Barry Goldwater really returned in the soul of Dr. Rand Paul?
Five months from now the General Election will be held. I'll volunteer to work at the polls. In the mean time I'll metaphorically and actually, pop me some pop corn and sit back and watch.