In January, the first time I ever voted in an election in Taiwan, I noticed the joy with which people attended the polls. This past week I worked at the polls in Michigan to help the Democratic and Republican primary elections along. As a paid inspector, my job was to “make voting easy”. It was NOT to promote any particular party or candidate. For several of the 15 hours I was on duty, I was at the “greeting” table where people entered the polling station, filled out an “application to vote”, and were sorted into the precincts (there were two voting in that room) where they would receive a ballot to mark and put into the box.
Turnout was good. The polls were officially open for 13 hours. There was always at least one person voting. Sometimes there were lines at the “get your ballot” station where registrations were checked. All was smooth and friendly. I met some interesting people.
Michigan asks for people to present a photo identification card, and prefers a driving license. A young woman came in with an ID card from an out of town community college. According to the book, that’s acceptable, too, it’s just harder to process. However, she was not registered, which could be remedied by a trip to the city clerk’s office then a return to the poll. When I asked if she lived in the neighborhood, she said, “No,” then added that she lived “on the northside”, which isn’t even in the city. She was just on her way somewhere, saw the “vote here” sign outside, and thought she might be able to just cast a ballot.
All was done with smiles, and she promised to register in the township where she resides in time for the next election in a few months’ time.
Another voter was pleased to have to fill out an “application to vote” card and to show his photo ID. He said that it would prevent “all of those fake voters” and “dead people” from casting ballots. Hearing his statement, I politely asked if that had been a problem in Michigan
, to which he replied in the negative, but cited places like Georgia. With what I hope was a smile on my face, I directed him to the side of the room where he could get a ballot.
Of all the places where I worked that day, I enjoyed the greeting table the most.
David Alexander now resides in Holland, MI after 39 years in Taiwan.