What I Learned on Election Day

When a New Generation Works the Polls, Change Can Happen

By Erinda Sheno

When I stepped out of my house on Beyer Avenue on November 3rd, I took small sips of my coffee, believing I would have time to finish it while it was warm. Returning home 14 hours later—wiped out, hungry, mentally drained—I could almost laugh at how I started that morning. I had looked up and appreciated the predawn sky. I strolled, did not rush, out of the house and into the driver’s seat of my parents’ car. I didn’t know. No one knew how the day would go. But separate from that feeling of anxious waiting that charges Election Day, I held an inexperienced ignorance towards poll working. (By evening, I could say I felt a little wiser.) Not much later, I realized I should have left the house with a lot more haste: when I pulled in to park at my division’s polling place, the line to vote was nearly around the building.

The banquet hall of the Bustleton Memorial American Legion Post 810 resists change, I thought. Perhaps that is fitting for a neighborhood’s polling place. The chandeliers, drab carpeting, and white walls transported me back four years , to when I was 16 years old and accompanying my mother as she voted. Now the room held about two dozen people. All were in motion at their stations—setting up voting machines, taping signs announcing ward/division info to plexiglass barriers, organizing voter address books and provisional ballots before the polls opened at seven. Suddenly my coffee cup was forgotten. I joined the crowd and spoke to the first woman I saw by my table, 56/31.