Red, white and blue all over

Don’t ask me who won the California primary elections Tuesday. I’m on only my first cup of coffee.

Yesterday, politics was none of my business. I was a first-time election clerk, sworn to uphold the Election worker-1 Constitutions of the United States and California, bound by law to keep ballots secret and safe and bound by rule not to discuss candidates, political parties, surveys or any other of the topics that fuel talk radio and front-porch bickering as the big day nears.

I was one of a staff of five, each with specific duties. If you voted on the mountain, it could have been me who set up your voting booth at 6 a.m., who tore the ballot off the ballot pad and wrapped it in a privacy sleeve for you, then helped to secure the voting materials after 8 p.m., when polling places closed.

It’s a small mountain: Stick around long enough, and you realize that everybody knows half of everybody else. Yesterday, we had to be reminded that it wasn’t enough to recognize the person coming through the door; voters officially have to state their first and last names and their street addresses before voting. One of the county’s official poll observers scribbled furiously on a clipboard whenever that was followed by things like “How’s your mom doing?” and “I heard your sister got married last fall.” Neighborly statements aren’t in the manual.

But you could do everything else. If you’re eligible to vote, you’re eligible to help other people to vote. Contact your county’s elections department or registrar of voters to apply.

As the headlights bent around curves in the road just after 9 p.m., preliminary election results poured out of the Jeep’s radio from Los Angeles. I felt hungry, tired, patriotic and downright American.

Bring on the General Election in November!

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What day is it?

June 2023
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