Living in Society

Election Day 2020

Before the Poll Opens, Nov. 3, 2010

Monday was getting ready for election day. According to the Iowa Secretary of State website, my voted absentee ballot was received by the county auditor on Oct. 7.

I also volunteered to be a poll observer for our precinct today. In the past this person struck the names of Democratic voters from a list we generated so a team in a nearby home could reach out to those who hadn’t voted. We had drivers who could pick up and transport voters to the polling place. We made calls and door knocked until everyone had been contacted. Our statehouse candidate typically stopped by for a pep talk. There was also potluck lunch and dinner — the day served as a social event. This year, because of the coronavirus pandemic, we are only observing voting operations, alert for trouble. No potluck meals or camaraderie for us.

I don’t expect trouble. The president’s call for his supporters to serve as self-appointed election observers sounds like a form of voter intimidation. In our rural precinct more people know each other than don’t, so if there is trouble, it is likely to be quickly resolved by poll workers. I doubt we’ll have to call the sheriff and am trained in what to do if there is trouble. There was a discussion of Iowa’s open carry law for firearms during our training.

There was a training Zoom call, a 42-page manual to read, a credential to print out and laminate, a lunch to pack. I’m planning to wear Dockers and a woven shirt, something I haven’t yet done in 2020. Also in my kitbag are two N-95 masks, the most comfortable shoes I own, and a book to read. It will be a long day. My shift begins at 6:30 a.m. and continues until everyone in line at 9 p.m. finishes voting.

Monday morning the county auditor reported 61,083 voters cast a ballot thus far. In the last presidential election the total number of votes cast was 77,476 or 84 percent of active registered voters. The coronavirus pandemic is driving early voting numbers and the county expects a new record in voter turnout percentage and number of votes cast.

I have no informed opinions or even guesses about the outcome of the election. Statewide Democratic candidates have to win our county to have a chance and Joe Biden, Theresa Greenfield and Rita Hart are expected to do well here. The irony is I won’t see as many Democratic voters at the polls because of the coronavirus pandemic. Many Democrats are voting early to avoid spread of COVID-19.

I expect to have something to say about the election results once they are known. I remember the 2000 election, though. George W. Bush won that election only after the U.S. Supreme Court decided Bush v. Gore on Dec. 12, 2000 and vote counting ceased. In 2020 there have already been electoral shenanigans by Republicans. Sadly, mustering an army of lawyers has become a necessary part of our elections. I hope not to see any lawyers in our precinct unless they are coming to vote.

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