I sat quietly in the small office with mint green walls and white trimmed windows, waiting for the class to start. There were three students sitting nearby and we made small talk as we waited for the instructor. I felt shy and a little awkward, but dutiful. I was about to learn how to work the polls during this week’s midterm election – something my mother has done for years.
Like many of you, I’ve been anxious about the midterms, the threat to our democracy, and about the protection of women’s agency – a topic I’ve committed my life’s work to for more than three decades. My decision to work the polls on Tuesday was a way of putting my anxiety on notice: You don’t own me. Rather than listen to myself complain about the election, I knew I needed to put my time and energy where my mouth is. When fear meets action, it loses its power.
During our class, I learned about the variety of ways a polling station protects our right to vote, what they do to ensure the legitimacy of the voting process, and the commitment poll workers make to supporting every voter in his or her desire to take part in the election process. Honestly, by the end of the training, I felt informed and confident about the security of not only in-person voting, but the use of mail-in and absentee ballots as well. Every vote (and voter) are checked, double checked, triple checked, and then checked again to legitimize the election process.
My decision to work the polls this year was important. Every time we come to an election here in the states I feel the weight of what’s at stake and I do my best to remind women of their power. We are change agents, decision makers whose choices are worth trillions of dollars every year, and a group of voters who have the privilege of influencing election outcomes.
This year, relaying that message to all who would listen didn’t feel like enough. On Tuesday I’ll enjoy meeting new people from our community as I do my part to support the election process. And I’ll vote. Not only for me, but for the women I love and care about. I vote for my mother, my sisters, my aunts, and nieces. I vote for my friends and colleagues and the mermaids I swim with every week. I vote for the women in parts of the country who haven’t found their voices yet, and for those who can’t use their voice under threat of danger.
If you live in my town, please be sure to say hello when you come in to cast your ballot. And if you don’t live here, please vote. Take your precious power and put it to good use. Do it for all the women you love.