After a career as an engineer in the auto industry, Beverly Hills resident Christine Allen decided to use some of her newly found free time to strengthen democracy after she retired in 2018. She started by volunteering to help pass Proposal 2, a ballot measure that changed the way the state draws congressional districts by taking politicians out of the picture and putting the power in the hands of citizens.
Following that initial effort, she started registering voters and educating voters. As a volunteer in the ACLU’s grassroots People Power campaign, she assisted in our efforts to defend voting rights and educate voters. This August, she added another page to her portfolio by becoming a poll worker for the primary election.
“It was a great experience,” says Ms. Allen.
Assigned to a polling place in northwest Detroit, she says everything possible was done to protect both workers like herself and voters from COVID-19. Masks were readily available and, for workers who wanted them, face shields as well.
“There were industrial-size bottles of hand sanitizer, and lots and lots of disinfectant wipes that we used constantly to clean pens and surfaces,” she says.
One of the things that sticks out in her mind is the camaraderie she and her fellow poll workers felt.
“They would make an announcement every time someone cast their ballot for the very first time, and the whole room would cheer,” she recalls. “We did what we could to make it fun.”
The $440 she earned was nice, but it’s the positive nature of the experience – and her desire to keep protecting the democratic process – that has her planning to work the polls again on Nov. 3.
With concerns that there could be a shortage of poll workers this coming Election Day, people such as Ms. Allen are more needed than ever. A record-breaking number of voters are expected to cast absentee ballots, but not everyone will want to vote that way. So, making sure polling places are adequately staffed remains crucial to ensuring lines flow smoothly and there are no hitches.
“This is all about protecting democracy,” says Ms. Allen. “We want to make sure everyone’s voice is heard.”
If you want to join her in that effort, there is still time to register and be trained as a poll worker. To learn how go to: https://www.michiganvoting.org/be-a-poll-worker