My mother after she retired worked occasionally as a Republican Party judge on election day. My oldest sister worked every election for years. They were staunch Republicans.
I worked my first election in 1972, handing out flyers for Democrat Phil Sharp, who was running an unsuccessful campaign for Congress (he was elected two years later). I periodically worked polls, handing out campaign literature for various candidates -- some Republican, some Democrats.
Then about 15 years ago, I planted my flag firmly with the Democratic Party. Since that time, I have worked primary and general elections in nearly every capacity. I have been a candidate visiting polling places and meeting voters on their way to cast their ballots. I've handed out literature for candidates and party slates. I've served as a runner, relaying voter turnout information during the course of the day. I've worked inside the polls as the chief officer in charge of the polling place. This year I'm serving as an election day attorney available to protect the right to vote.
Having seen this process close up for years, I am outraged by Donald Trump's assertions that the election at the polling place "is rigged."
There is no evidence that Donald Trump has ever worked a polling place or taken part in an election other than donating money. He has no idea how it works. As Arlo Guthrie might say, he's "gotta lot of damn gall" to call into question the veracity and honesty of hundreds of thousands of poll workers when he has never participated in the process.
It is a disservice to our American system that has been the envy of the world for 240 years.
But more personally, it is a disservice to the hundreds of thousands of people in both parties, in every precinct in this country, who sacrifice their time, energy and sleep to put on an election. These are the people that make America's electoral process work. And these are the people Donald Trump is insulting when he talks about "rigged" elections.
Working an election is a thankless job. First there is the training. Every worker has to go through a training session in which they are instructed on how the election process works, given a brief summary of Indiana election law, and instructed on the specific requirements of their jobs.
In Indiana, the inspector usually arrives at the polling site at about 5 a.m. to begin setting up The other workers come wandering in between 5:00 and 5:30, help set up the machines and materials, and organize the flow from voter check in, to casting ballots.
Oh, yes. They usually set up a table for the food they bring in and make some coffee. They have to bring in their own food because it is not provided.
You see, poll workers cannot leave the polling place. They are at the site from before polls open at 6 a.m until after the polls close at 6 p.m. It is not unusual for the inspector to not be finished with his job until 8 or 9 pm. That's why you seldom see poll workers at the late night celebration or commiseration parties following elections. They are just too damn tired.
During the day, these poll workers sit patiently, voter by voter, checking the registration book, checking the photo ID required by Indiana law, making sure the voter gets the correct ballot (more important in primary elections, but there still are precincts that sometimes are split for such things as township boards or school boards). And they deal with issues that inevitably crop up -- someone who is at the wrong polling place, someone who recently moved, or for several elections, someone who registered with the BMV when they got their license plate, but the registration didn't show up. Other times, particularly with elderly voters, their ID is expired because they no longer drive, which under Indiana law makes them ineligible to vote. The poll workers try to get these people to the closest BMV branch to get an ID, so they can return and vote before the polls close.
Then sometimes there are the voters with disabilities that may need physical assistance. Working with GOP poll workers, we always were able to accommodate the disability and get the person's vote case. In one instance, it was someone whose hand shook so bad that they could not mark the ballot. So we read the ballot to her, she said who she wanted to vote for, and the GOP representative marked the ballot while I watched. On another occasions a young man had driven all the way from Purdue University to cast his first vote. There was a question about whether he had arrived by closing time at 6 pm, but the GOP representative and I conferred and agreed that neither of us could be so sure of the time on our watch as to deny him the opportunity to vote. He cast his vote. For whom, we neither knew nor cared.
That is the way elections in the country work, Mr. Trump.
They are not liars. They are not crooks. They are not cheats.
They are hard working people in every single community in this nation. They get up long before sunrise and work long after the sun sets, united by their belief that voting matters. Just like those who serve in the military, or fight fires, or protect and serve, or show up for jury duty, they are everyday American heroes.
To call this uniquely American process "rigged" is the greatest insult of the many Donald Trump has spewed this campaign.
Those poll workers deserve respect and thanks.