A Day at the Polls


Voters wait in line to vote early in Fairfax County, Va. Photo by Leon Lawrence III

By Necati Unsal, Deputy Editor

It’s easy to grow increasingly pessimistic about politics and the electoral process in our day and age. That pessimism sadly translates to a general lack of investment as to what happens to the country, which, especially having affected young adults like us, can leave us without a voice in a time where our concerns should be paramount. That apprehensiveness likewise affected me; having frequently heard negative things online, I assumed the worst about our electoral system as a whole. All of my preconceived notions considered, I was dismayed when I was made to volunteer at my local polling place. 

The day began bright and early in the morning, with my shift starting at 5:00 A.M. I immediately went to my precinct captain, the official head of the voting operation for the area, who stated that my duties for the day were doing line counts and generally helping others out. Despite the ease of my duties, I found it difficult standing outside for an hour waiting for the line outside the voting place to fill up. To my surprise, over a hundred people showed up, even before voting began at 6:00 A.M. That enthusiasm amongst a wide variety of people helped change my less-than-favorable view of the system. If such a diverse group of people could unite around a process, perhaps there was more to our democracy than is often given credit by people. 

Later on in the day, I helped fill various roles, most notably as a greeter. As a greeter, I was better able to see people in line and was amazed to see the civility present. Regardless of who they were voting for, people exchanged their thoughts on the election in a constructive manner, something you rarely seen talked about, especially when compared with the turbulent political situation in the country. Everyone had reasons for who they were voting for. Unlike the thoughts I mentioned previously, people were invested in voting and took a lot of time to decide who they’d vote for. Maybe through seeing the belief of others, similar confidence could grow in me. 

Overall, the day was extremely beneficial towards growing my confidence and belief in a system I had long held to be defunct. The process does have problems, but I was assured that with the help of the vast array of people that involve themselves in the electoral system, these problems could be overcome. The only thing which troubled me throughout the day was the age of the poll workers. While it is essential to have more experienced individuals, it was concerning that I was the youngest one there by twenty years. Knowing the importance of the day for my development both as a person and a future voter, I’d implore all of those reading this right now to get involved in our civic society, as it’s an experience I’m sure that you won’t regret.