I did not sign up for this.
When I registered to be a poll worker, I looked at it as an active, nonpartisan way to contribute to our democracy. I thought that working the polls was essential to helping others — particularly those whose votes are often suppressed — have access to open and fully staffed polling places where they could exercise one of the foundations of our democracy by voting for president.
When I decided to work every single day of early voting, plus Election Day itself, I had expectations of a positive experience and an opportunity to contribute to my community.
But I didn’t sign up for this. I didn’t sign up to be threatened, harassed, taunted, harangued and even physically assaulted. But I got all of this, and more.
Trump supporters treated the outside of my polling place in West Boca Raton like a college football tailgate party, complete with their own sound systems blasting the music of artists who most definitely do not share their political and social views. There were overflowing coolers; cardboard cutouts of Trump and his wife for the time being; gigantic pick-up trucks over-adorned with Trump, MAGA, KAG and QAnon flags; and a palpable combination of anger, stupidity and revelry. They were joined at times by local lawyer and failed Palm Beach County Commission candidate David Irving Shiner and his similarly enthusiastic and raucous team. Trump’s faithful followers blocked access in and out of our polling place with their vehicles, interfered with traffic by standing in the streets and waving flags, and directly interfered with voters in the precinct by blasting the train horns from their jacked-up trucks directly into the polling place where voters were voting.
These self-styled patriots verbally harassed voters and poll workers, and even chanted the “n-word” at our precinct supervisor, a Black woman. One deranged Trump supporter attacked that same supervisor with an umbrella, injuring her forehead. This, to an elections office employee pulling 17- or 18-hour days to ensure your right to vote. And she wasn’t alone in being abused. A man decorated head-to-toe with cheap Trump memorabilia poked me repeatedly in the chest. Others threatened and harassed a group of teenage girls who arrived on Election Day to peacefully and quietly sit behind a “Students Demand Action” banner.
I signed up knowing I would interact with a thousand or more voters each day, but I didn’t sign up to be coughed at and spit upon by mask-refusers.
“Where were the police?” you ask. Good question. The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office was called on both emergency and nonemergency lines at least a dozen times over the course of early voting and Election Day, and responded each time. Based on my observation, however, their interest in keeping the poll workers and voters safe was de minimis. When deputies made efforts to control the group, those efforts were cursory at best. One sergeant told me, “If you call again, we’re not coming back here anymore.”
Over the course of the two-plus weeks, less than a handful of deputies who responded to our pleas for help on behalf of our voters and ourselves actually took some effective action, but as soon as they left our precinct, the terrorism resumed.
Ours was but one of many precincts with similar problems in what was clearly a coordinated effort by Trump cultists, but many other precincts had detail deputies dedicated to their specific polling place. We did not. Did we lose any voters to the threats and harassment? There’s no way to know for sure, but if just one voter was discouraged from exercising his or her constitutional right to vote due to these terroristic actions, it was one too many.
I do not feel as if Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Wendy Sartory Link, who was fully aware of our precinct’s plight, made enough of an effort to keep us safe. While the supervisor was taking a stroll with Melania on Election Day, we were in a war zone. She had instructed us to call the police if we needed assistance, but those calls proved futile.
Trump supporters are members of a cult, whether they realize it or not. Today, they should be ashamed of themselves.
I did not sign up for this.