Another E-day in the books. This was my third, and I think I’m finally starting to get the hang of it. There was lots of time to read the manual between voters yesterday; turnout was pathetic. The city clerk is estimating 11 percent. In the no-shows’ defense, it was a pretty lackluster slate. The mayor faced no serious opposition, the council candidates were…council candidates, and the city charter revision was at the city-governance-nerd level, an unlikely demographic in the precinct I worked, which draws from a pretty low-income part of the city. People arrived before and after work hours in health-care scrubs and the sort of uniforms that suggested employment other than in the C-suite.
But that they showed up at all was something of a miracle — walkers, canes, unsteady gaits — and as always, I think of how we can make voting easier, encourage more people to participate, make them understand how important it is, even in lackluster cycles. In other words, to do the work that the entire GOP, top to bottom, is trying to thwart.
It’s already reasonably accommodating. Proposal 3 of 2018 brought in a lot of election reforms here in Michigan, and as a lowly poll worker, I’m always struck by what is the overarching principle of elections and the ten million rules around our procedures, i.e., the right to vote is hard-won and shouldn’t be stripped away lightly. This is why my ass gets chapped when the brain-dead among us post snarky, recycled social media memes that ask why you need to show an ID to get on a plane, but not to vote. To which I reply, first, you do have to show ID to vote in Michigan, but sometimes people lose IDs, or just don’t have them for whatever reason. Should they be denied the most fundamental right of democracy because they misplaced their wallet? (Republicans: Yes! They’re irresponsible, except when it happens to me, in which case it’s just a misfortune!) So we have the affidavit system, etc. Also, getting on a plane isn’t the same as voting, so just shut up about that.
Anyway, I hope we followed all the procedures correctly and there won’t be the usual spate of pearl-clutching around the inevitable mistakes. (There won’t be, because this was a Detroit city election, and the pearl-clutchers don’t care about Detroit.)
My co-workers this time were lots of fun. The chairman for my precinct was, I learned in a series of revelations spread out through the 16-hour day, a sailor-mouth coffee drinker who used to ride motorcycles and sometimes will live for a couple days on healthy snacks rather than actual meals, and has been divorced twice. He also digs classic rock and subscribes to the Nation, which at the end was maybe the funniest of the day. He read the latest issue off and on, then pressed it on one of the other workers with a hearty endorsement. When the men’s-room door was unexpectedly locked, he speculated almost instantly that maybe a junkie had gone in there, locked the door for privacy to shoot up, and had OD’d and died within. Interesting conclusion! But it turns out it was just an accident. Before the custodian came to remedy the situation, he used the ladies’, which he said “smelled much nicer” and was also “pretty.”
So that was E-Day III for me, and I hope I have a few more. I leave you with this helpful illustration from the operations manual. Recall that one of the more ignorant complaints about the November fiasco at the TCF Center in Detroit is that GOP poll challengers were “locked out” of the room where the absentee counting boards were working. They were not, of course; there were at least a couple hundred already inside when the room reached capacity and security prevented any more from entering. But the people screaming outside and pounding on the windows were not trained challengers; I guess they’d qualify as poll watchers, but my point here is that as in most other election-related practices, there was a procedure in place and they did not respect it. Happy Wednesday, all.