It has been one week since the election and I have been trying to write a story about it ever since. I thought it would be easy. I thought it would be about my immigration story, becoming a citizen 20 years ago, and voting for the first time. I thought it would be about how 20 years later as Chief Inspector I would not only feel the full weight and privilege of exercising my own right to vote but now the responsibility and duty to make sure that every person who wanted to vote could do so legally and freely.
I thought I would tell you about the training the week before. And the Election Inspector and Chief Inspector Election Day Manual more than one inch thick. I thought I would tell you how fun it was to stand in front of the ballot machine and proclaim for all to hear “Hear Ye, Hear Ye, The Polls Are Now Open” and then again at the end of the night “Hear Ye, Hear Ye, The Polls Are Now Closed.” I thought I would tell you about the laborious work of posting all of the signs and information telling voters of their rights and marking the blue X’s six feet apart. I thought I would tell you what it was like working in a largely African American community not my own, to do everything I could to assure each voter that their vote would count and not be thrown away. I thought I would tell you about the observers from both sides of the aisle who sat together but six feet apart respectfully watching, asking questions, and making sure that all was within the rule of law. I thought I would tell you about the volunteers stationed 100 feet away passing out water and PPE, the food truck giving out free barbecue, and the anonymous donation of pizzas for all to share.
I thought I would tell you all of these things. But coming home at the end of that night and listening to the mistruths and falsehoods about widespread voter fraud and deceit, I want to tell you about the workers that day. About the poll worker who drove a voter to his correct polling station during her break. And the oath we all took “[t]o faithfully and studiously endeavor to prevent all fraud, deceit, or abuse.” I want to tell you about the eight and sixteen hour shifts. Greeting each voter. And cleaning each poll booth. Registering and receiving. Checking for proof of residency and identification with great care and intention. Offering solutions and options. Cross-checking names against lists and more lists. Certifying and reconciling poll books and election day registrations, the number of ballots issued and the number cast. I want to tell you about how my team of workers stayed long after the polls had closed. How they deconstructed the poll booths and stacked the tables and chairs. How they pulled up blue X’s and packed up all of the supplies. How they completed, confirmed and signed the reconciliation reports and sorted and packed the ballots. I want to tell you how they did all of this while I successfully sent the election results, shut down the voting machine, and completed my Chief Inspector report. I want to tell you how we signed our names on forms, documents, and reports — certifying that everything we did that day was true, correct and complete — with great care and honor. How fifteen hours after the polls first opened we were still there dotting all of our i’s, crossing all of our t’s, and making sure every vote counted.
I want to tell you that when you happen upon stories of conspiracy, deceit and widespread voter fraud, to think of the thousands of poll workers and ballot counters just like us. About the friends, neighbors, and family members who volunteered or worked on the front lines before, during and after to make sure that every vote counted. I want you to remember the dedication, patience and kindness of strangers. I want you to let go of fear and resist anger. And instead believe in the checks and the balances, the democracy we love, and the goodness and hard work of others.