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LETTER: Observations from a poll worker

Reader Albert Wierenga shares some observations made during his time as a poll worker in the federal election
2021-09-20 Elections Canada sign RB 1
Elections Canada polling station in Barrie.

BradfordToday received the following letter from reader Albert Wierenga detailing the good things he's experienced as an election worker during the recent federal election, and why others in the community should give their time in the future.

Bradford is changing rapidly through an influx of people with origins all over the world. This inevitably will mean that the days that Bradford Council will be solely an almost totally male preserve (despite their fine voluntary efforts) is bound to change when a more diverse population steps to the plate. That election and change lies in the future, but we also had an election on September 20th, at which I worked the polls.

The reason I work the polls are many, but working for the money isn't one of them. After taxes, etc., the net earnings are far from great. 

I also do not do it for the hours to be worked. Fourteen or more hours per day with fifteen minutes for lunch and, if lucky, fifteen minutes for a cold dinner, resemble almost medieval conditions, and are not something to be done often. So why do it? Some of the reasons why I recommend that readers give election work a try, are as follows.

1. Observing the democratic process at work, in-house so to speak, is highly instructive and valuable. Many citizens in our world do not have the privilege.of a free vote. Belarus and Hong Kong, with their recent democratic losses, are examples.

2.  Working as a poll worker one gains a great appreciation for the safety that is built into our system. The processes demand a lot of paperwork and checking, but this is necessary to maintain a secret and fair vote. It also meant that after the polls closed, poll workers were kept busy until well after midnight; a 16-hour day!

3. Meeting people I have not seen for a long time is also stimulating. Occasionally there is even time to catch up for a few minutes.

4. Watching people is one of my favourite interests during polls. Seeing caring parents take their children to observe the democratic process and educate them. Seeing entire families of mom, dad, and mature kids coming to the polls to participate. Seeing how polite the voting public is. Many will say,  "Thank you", when they have completed the process. Seeing how well people in Bradford behaved, even though at times there were longer waiting times. This occurred because Covid made this an 'odd' and of necessity a more expensive election. Seeing a cross section of Bradford's populace and how colourful, and international, we are. For someone who has spent 10 years working abroad, this is commendable and enriching.

 Overall, allow me to compliment all the folks who participated in the vote and allowed us poll workers to do our jobs without undue pressure. Thank you and au revoir, until the next election.