Voting is Empowerment
As September begins, the nation is moving steadily towards the 2016 Presidential Election. Along with the election comes the dreaded political ads and lots of mudslinging courtesy of politicians. But the people who run polling stations in rural America on Election Day have a positive outlook on the political process. According to Deb Klingenberger, the Election Commissioner for Webster County, NE, even small town America counts at the polling booth. Webster County is mostly rural with five polling stations spread across the county and a total of 25 workers.
“You hear that small town America doesn’t make a difference. I really think it does. How do you know your opinion doesn’t matter if you don’t voice it? You can’t make a change if you don’t put yourself out there,” said Klingenberger.
Part of what Klingenberger and the people who work the polls for her enjoy most is when all their hard work pays off. When everything runs smoothly and they have a good turnout, it feels like the election is a success. Klingenberger says all of the poll workers receive training and run through every possible scenario during Election Day. The poll workers in Webster County enjoy staying engaged socially and politically through their work.
“Most of the people we have as poll workers are very social people and they like to visit with all the residents that come in. I think that’s their main thing. They really like to keep abreast of what goes on in Webster County,” said Klingenberger.
Lisa Poff, the Election Commissioner for Buffalo County, NE, feels working with voters makes a difference in her community.
“I just like working with people. I feel like they’re making a difference. They’re letting their voice be heard,” said Poff. She also says many of the poll workers she works with feel they are doing their civil duty and enjoy visiting with voters on Election Day.
Poll workers in Harlan County, NE, also share a love for the social aspect of their work. Janet Dietz, the Election Commissioner for Harlan County, says many of the poll workers feel a sense of civic duty.
“You still have this right, this duty. They feel it’s their duty and they enjoy it. It’s exciting to see the results when we get them up on our website. It’s a long day but it’s fun,” said Dietz. She says the poll workers work from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Election Day. But the long day is filled with the excitement of seeing the election results first hand and visiting with long-time friends.
Klingenberger says most of the voters are rural. She says during the last general election, voting turnout for Webster County was at 60 percent. So far she has had about 20 requests for early voting ballots. Klingenberger is confident she will be able to increase voter turnout for the general election this November.
“I’m really hoping for the general we’ll have a bigger turnout. I’m going to do a few articles to try to get the vote out. I want to get out that we can cover almost any excuse. If you’re busy that day you can come [to the courthouse] and vote. We can mail a ballot and we even cover the postage for returning it to us,” said Klingenberger.
It’s easy to feel as though our votes don’t count. But what would happen if everyone got off the couch and exercised their voting power? Make sure your vote counts on Election Day.
- a the word changes contributor