All day on Tuesday, people were posting photos of themselves and others involved in the act of voting and proudly wearing their “I Voted Today” stickers.
After months of campaigns, the long political season had finally had come to an end. And judging by the voter turnout, it was a great day for representative democracy.
But this fundamental part of our democracy doesn’t happen without a lot of people working very hard, often for little or no pay, to ensure a vibrant and fair election.
If you voted, you encountered the volunteers and elections staff who signed you in, directed you where to take your ballots and guided you through the process. Many of these people worked the entire day — 15 hours of voting, plus preparation time — without many breaks.
Volunteers and staffers are the backbone of our election process, and we should be grateful for their service.
If you got a visit from someone carrying a clipboard or handing out flyers this year, it was probably someone volunteering their time to sign up voters, gather petition signatures or to make a personal pitch on behalf of a candidate.
Their efforts are essential, in that they help ensure candidates get access to the ballot and that voters get information to make sound decisions.
These volunteers, many of them young people, give up their weekends and evenings to drive around and knock on doors, often making hundreds of visits each day. For every person who greets them at the door warmly, there are many others who don’t.
It’s not easy. But they do it because they believe in the candidates and the electoral process.
Let’s also take time to thank the candidates themselves. It takes a lot of sacrifice to run for office, whether it be for a seat on a school board or Congress.
Those who run give up countless hours with their families, their jobs and their own personal time to campaign door to door, hit up friends and family members for money, and attend fund-raisers and meetings with newspaper editorial boards.
In addition, many candidates contribute a lot of their own money to their campaigns to cover travel expenses and campaign materials.
Without people willing to run for office and give us all a choice, we’d have no democracy.
On college campuses and in communities, citizens volunteer each year to register voters, make phone calls to get out the vote, donate their own money to candidates and drive voters to the polls.
It’s easy to look at voter turnout statistics or polls showing the public’s negative attitude toward politics and claim our democracy is plagued by apathy.
But the contributions of the many people who make our elections possible proves otherwise.