29 April 2020

Life questions

Sometimes one is confronted with a question that is potentially difficult, but deceptively simple. I believe in elections. Do you? What are you willing to do for that belief?

Yesterday, I deposited a small check drawn on Cook County. The check was my salary for the Illinois primary election. I served as a judge of elections. By the time one attends class, does the necessary reading, and serves from 5: AM to about 10: PM, one is lucky to make $7.50 an hour. In fact I made less. There is however coffee and pizza. And by serving I help make elections happen. Judges in my experience believe in elections.

I serve because the State has to run elections and that means judges of elections. What we do, you probably have seen us, is greet the voter, verify the registration, if necessary either register the voter (here in Illinois,) or sometimes authorize provisional ballots. Very occasionally, we say, "no." We supervise use, and in the age of Covid 19, disinfect the County's equipment. We assure that ballots find their way into the appropriate container. We are professional and this is important, we are fair. We also, and this is very important, hand out the, "I voted" stickers. People care about those stickers!

The check stub text thanked me, and ended, "see you in November." Now there is a problem. I will be 74 in November. Given the way some idiots are treating the shelter in place and testing regimes, I might easily be in danger. Let's face it, working on the primary was a risk. I believe in elections, and so did the others. We did what the voters needed.

At 74, diabetic, with three stents in my heart; I am high risk for death if I contract Covid 19. But I believe in elections and the coming one is particularly important, there is a rare constitutional amendment on the ballot. So what do I do? The primary judges were desperately short staff. We got things done, but it was a near thing. November generally draws more voters. Morevoters means more possible sources of virus transmission.

If I contract Covid 19, I will likely die. Is it worth it? Judges of elections have immense power. Deciding if a person may vote is an exercise in government power.

Do I tell myself I believe in elections. Do I take the pollyanna-ish approach that by then we should be past the curve? Do I trust in an N95 mask? Or do I mail in a ballot, and watch the returns?

A person needs to know when something is worth dying for. Is my little part of the Republic in this election, worth it? After all, I might not be infected and people do recover. Ok, old men with multiple pre-existing issues do not recover often, but some few do.

In the age of civil rights demonstrations, and anti-VietNam war marches, I knew I could be arrested, injured, or killed: I risked it. But I am a husband, father, and grandfather now. And I know Covid kills old men.

I believe in elections. I shall be interested to see what I decide.

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