If you think it was stressful waiting for election boards around the country to count the millions of votes in the presidential election, imagine being the workers who were doing the counting.
Or imagine being the poll workers who braved exposure to the coronavirus to man polling places that were swamped with early voters and Election Day crowds. Think of the many hours of work done by election staffers who planned for an election like no other in the middle of a pandemic.
All of these workers faced a daunting challenge, and they rose to the occasion, working through the night in many cases and diligently counting away so that everyone’s vote counts this year.
In some cases, these people are still at work and will be for days to come.
Their efforts are heroic — as heroic as the other essential workers of this pandemic.
In big convention centers and small county offices, Republicans and Democrats worked side by side to make sure that American democracy was protected. In most cases, their election operations had never had to deal with the number of mail-in ballots they received this year or the number of in-person voters who showed up.
And no one working on elections had ever before had to work through the challenges that were created by the coronavirus pandemic. Polling places had to be moved to locations with more space to spread out voting machines and voters. An army of new poll workers had to be recruited to handle the extra work and to replace the veteran, mostly older, poll workers who could not safely work the polls this year. Every aspect of the operation had a new added degree of difficulty this year.
And as expected, when the ballot counting took longer than it typically does, tensions began to run high. Even so, from state to state, poll workers put on their glasses, hunkered over counting tables and diligently worked their way through ballots.
You could see it in their faces: Every vote is going to count.
America always owes a debt of gratitude to these election workers, but that is even more true this year. Too often we take their efforts for granted. This year was a reminder, democracy works because of their work.