I’ve worked elections for almost half my lifetime. It’s a family hobby, sort of. Between the Preacher, myself and our children—even an in-law who’s caught the bug, we’ve seen elections from most angles.
We’ve done everything from pounding in campaign signs, sitting as scrutineers at polls, enumerating voters door-to-door, crossing names off lists as poll clerks, handing out ballots as deputy returning officers, even supervising polling areas.
So when the country lunged into election mode recently, the invitation to work it didn’t surprise me.
But this one was different. “Kathleen,” asked a familiar voice. “Could you work in the Elections Canada office for six weeks?”
Well, yes, as a matter of fact. So I did, squeezing my writing deadlines around the fringes of the fifty-plus hours I worked each week.
I’ve learned to operate a multi-line telephone and placate irate voters. I’ve found a use for sticky notes other than writing love messages to family members. I also learned that recruiting hundreds of people to work the polls (and then getting them trained) is rather like catching fish with one’s bare hands. Or doing the front crawl through molasses. Or both.
Organizing an election is infinitely more complicated than it seems to those not doing it. But in spite of inevitible knots and snarls, considering the potential for even greater ones, Canada gets a whole whack of things right.
Our most recent election is history now. From ballot boxes to pens to voters lists, all the accessories have been put away or dispensed with. Yesterday someone whisked my black leather office chair from under me—while I sat on it, talking on the phone.
As I emptied my desk—and surrendered my collection of rainbow-colored sticky notes (with a pang!) I did so with a sense of humility. I’ve been privileged to witness, up close and personal, another layer of a national wonder: allowing millions of Canadians one of the highest democratic privileges—the right to place their X.
We laughed a lot in the office during those six weeks. Some of our visitors did too—particularly on the day the receptionist forgot her computer glasses at home. To make do, she propped up her distance ones using a wad of blue StickyTac.
“Why does that woman over there have chewing gum on the top of her nose?” someone asked another staff member, having rapidly backed away from the front desk in an effort to restrain her guffaws. I’m sure I would have laughed too, had I not owned the nose under the sticky wad.
“I’m far too proud to be seen like that,” a co-worker confessed. I, on the other hand simply prefer seeing.
What decades of working elections have helped me see most (and without blue StickyTac) is this: God has granted Canada immense privileges. Voting is critical to them all as one of the methods he’s used to keep our land glorious and free.
My gratitude trumps my complaining. So should all of ours.
This sobering article on fallout from the recent Nigerian election provides another reason to be grateful for our country–http://www.christiantoday.com/article/churches.and.christian.homes.destroyed.after.nigeria.elections/27859.htm