My day as a poll observer

For this year’s election, I did a new job that I had never done before. I was a “poll observer.” Each party may send an observer to each polling location. The observers are partisan, and their job is to assure that the voting process is fair and legal, there is no partisan favoritism, and those handing out campaign material (electioneering) are 100 feet from the entrance and following all laws.

I was assigned a precinct in suburban Cleveland. The voters at my precinct were almost all black, and mostly Democrats.

There were multiple people working for the Board of Election (BOE). All but one (a Republican) was black. There is one Democrat and one Republican who check voters against the registries before they get a ballot. The basic idea is that the R’s and D’s keep each other in line.

We’ve all heard the stories about voter intimidation, or disenfranchised voters, people being denied the right to vote, bussing people to multiple voting locations, allowing non-registered persons to vote and voting officials improperly advocating for a specific candidate or party. What I saw was people working to ensure the integrity of the voting system.

After observing the first 10 minutes,the Democratic poll observer and I joked that there was not going to be anything for us to correct all day because the poll workers were such sticklers for the rules. The Democrat official scolded voters for displaying Democratic slate cards. The Democratic observer removed those slate cards if a voter left them in a voting booth. Everyone worked diligently to ensure that all voting was proper at my location. Integrity was more important than partisanship for each of us.

We had over 500 voters. All but one was polite, even when they had to wait in line. There were several people filled with the pride of casting their first vote. They apologized for needing to ask questions, and were thankful for answers. Several people brought their kids, all of which were well behaved. Of course the 2 and 3 year olds acted like 2 and 3 year olds, but their parents made sure they didn’t bother other voters or workers.

Older kids said, “I’m sorry” or “Excuse me” if they accidentally got in the way of an adult. Kids said, “Thank you” to the gentleman handing out, “I voted” stickers. People smiled and joked and it was a pleasant day filled with many good people.

So what?!

So if you viewed us on TV, we have nothing in common. Blacks and whites. Republican and Democrats. Men and women. But in person we are very similar. We want a fair election, and we want the country to move in a better direction so our kids have a better life. We have much more in common than different. This is something I’ve known for a long time, but Election Day was a vivid reminder.

I believe the same is true of gun owners and “anti-gun” people. Most are not really “anti-gun” they are anti-crime, anti-murder, anti-child dies from a firearms-related accident. They are anti-bad things happening. Just like us.

Yes, there are partisan people on both sides that can’t let go of partisanship. Yes there are bad people rioting in the streets. But they are a tiny minority. The “news” media gives them air time and asks them questions and pretends they matter. They don’t. They are not exercising “free speech” or participating in political protests, they are hoodlums and vandals rioting, damaging others property and committing various crimes. They should be fined/arrested/imprisoned.

The media is how different and divided we are. Keep that in mind as you watch the biased “news” reports.

Jim Irvine is Chairman of the Buckeye Firearms Association Political Action Committee (BFA-PAC). He is also Board President of Buckeye Firearms Association, and recipient of the NRA-ILA's 2011 "Jay M. Littlefield Volunteer of the Year Award," the CCRKBA's 2012 "Gun Rights Defender of the Year Award," and the SAF's 2015 "Defender of Freedom Award."

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