Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

One day of service leaves an impact

Nora Romman

As I connect the ballot machines to outlets along the wall, I can’t help but yawn. It’s 6:30 a.m. — 30 minutes before the polls open on election day — and I’ve been up for two hours. The light just started to shine through the window, as a team of election officials and I prepared in the dark.

Yet when we open the doors precisely at 7 a.m., there isn’t a single person in line. After a couple of minutes, the first voter walks in, followed by a steady trickle for the rest of the day. For 12 hours, voters came in one-by-one to voice their opinions, yet our line never had a wait time of more than 10 minutes. Although it was a characteristically slow day for off-year elections, I still felt an irrefutable pride. 

Poll workers like myself make the elections in the state run smoothly, and we get paid to do it. The only requirements are being 18 years old on the day you work and maintaining voter registration in the designated county. Students can volunteer as young as 16 years old. Poll working is particularly ideal for students since they have the option to serve only on Election Day upon completion of training. Longhorns should consider becoming Travis County poll workers.

Students often think of elections as bureaucratic bores. However, elections represent so much more than waiting periods and words on a screen. They are an opportunity to use our voices and make decisions regarding consequential matters. Poll workers get a front-row seat to the political process and can meet people who care as much as they do about democracy.

Sitting in my chair on Nov. 7, I read my John Grisham novel until the door opened, reverberating through the quiet room. As I looked up, I saw an elderly gentleman with a cane and a visible limp slowly approach the clerk’s table. Despite his encumbered mobility, the man appeared cheery and greeted my partner and I. 

The man walked into the polling location from the parking lot, opting not to use the curbside voting option to avoid causing a fuss. Hearing this, I beamed with pride because the man had taken extraordinary pains to clear his schedule just to have his voice heard. 

Similarly, a mother and son walked in about halfway through the day. They each looked excited, and the mother quickly urged her son forward to the table. Before I could ask for a identification, the mother blurted out with an eager grin that her son was voting for the first time, and they had spent hours poring over the ballot options. I was glad to see that the young man was ecstatic to be at the polls, holding a voting guide in his hand and receiving his first “I Voted” sticker. 

Every year, millions of eligible Texans go out of their way to participate in the democratic process. While disagreement may be strong, nearly everyone who shows up at a polling location agrees about the power of voting. Poll workers are uniquely situated to watch this tradition come to life, and there’s always a need for more of them. As an election clerk, I get paid to help others make their voices heard.

This spring, consider becoming a poll worker for the primary races. It could start a passion that will last for years and is certain to make a difference.

Doud is a journalism and government freshman from Conroe, TX.

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