Observations at the Polls during Midterm Election Day
By Dennis Melby, At-large MCGOP Central Committee Member
Early November was cold and wet and on Election Day the rain came down in buckets during the morning rush. In regular years, the turnout in a mid-term election is fairly light, but not this year. The numbers for all parties were up, and the voters turned out in droves.
We all did our part. A lot of us voted early. On Election Day, many candidates spent the entire day going from polling place to polling place, encouraging their volunteers and answering voters’ questions. So many folks volunteered for signs, literature or greeters. It was wonderful to observe such a high level of participation.
You could tell there was a lot of interest, but there was also some tension in the air. I was in Laytonsville – the upper middle part of Montgomery County – and from dark morning to dark evening the voters kept coming. Our neighbors are pretty easy to read, and during this election cycle, you could tell that people were polarized. Normally when you work at the polls, most people have their minds made up . . . they walk in purposefully, and most of them have their sample ballots gripped and folded in their hands. Indeed, they don’t want to be bothered by those of us working the polls and trying to give them that last little bit of info on the party or the candidate.
This time was different. Many voters wanted to tell us that they were voting party line. They also wanted to let us know that they were sending a message. And many of them wanted us to understand that their votes for Governor Hogan were the only deviations they had made in their usual voting patterns.
The overwhelming number of voters were friendly and nice, but a few were argumentative and confrontational – something I haven’t witnessed in a long time. In my opinion, political discussions are fine, but arguments on politics, candidates and philosophies go nowhere – change no minds and lead to more alienation.
Working the polls this year was an eye opener and made me realize that I needed to dedicate myself more to listening, talking, respecting and listening again. More respect, more humor, heck even more smiling, will go a long way to helping to restore our dignity and belief in the democratic process. We need that.
After all, “Democracy is the worst type of government . . . except for all the others.”