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It’s virtually time for college kids to move again to high school. And, earlier than you would possibly suppose, it’s additionally going to be time for voters to move again to the polls. The Nov. 7 election, as soon as some distant idea, is shortly coming into focus.
All elections are necessary, however for an “off” 12 months with out common congressional or state legislative contests, this November’s election might nonetheless be notably lively. There shall be a whopping eight referendum questions for Maine voters to resolve.
Elections are additionally powered by an typically underappreciated — and more and more maligned — group of individuals. Volunteer ballot employees assist maintain the wheels of democracy rolling. Their work round election day helps make sure that individuals throughout the state, and throughout the nation, are capable of train their proper to vote.
Aug. 23 was Nationwide Ballot Employee Recruitment Day, an effort amplified by the bipartisan U.S. Election Help Fee aiming to interact extra individuals within the ballot employee course of. Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, the state’s high election official, participated in that effort on Wednesday with an announcement encouraging individuals to affix the ballot employee ranks for the Nov. 7 election.
“Serving as a ballot employee is an effective way for Mainers to be concerned of their neighborhood in a significant means,” Bellows mentioned. “Ballot employees additionally get [a] firsthand have a look at the numerous checks and balances constructed into our election system right here in Maine as we work to maintain our elections secure, safe, accessible and correct.
The Secretary of State’s workplace additionally supplied an announcement from Sue Clements-Dallaire, the town clerk in Auburn and president of the Maine City and Metropolis Clerks Affiliation.
“Municipalities all through Maine typically wrestle to recruit a enough variety of election employees with equal social gathering illustration. Ballot employees are such a crucial piece of the election course of,” Clements-Dallaire mentioned. “What higher solution to serve your neighborhood, to learn the way our democratic course of works, and to see firsthand the entire measures which might be taken to make sure secure and safe elections in Maine.”
Regardless of the lucky actuality that Maine elections are each safe and accessible, some individuals have more and more made unsubstantiated accusations associated to the system’s integrity — and disparaged the volunteers who assist make it run easily. In Maine and throughout the nation, there have been alarming experiences of threats and harassment towards ballot employees, city clerks and different election officers notably following the 2020 election and former President Donald Trump’s f alse claims about that election.
That is completely backward. Ballot employees deserve thanks, not derision. They need to be appreciated, not made to really feel unsafe.
So to anybody who desires democracy to be accessible, honest and safe: Be grateful that individuals are keen and capable of volunteer as ballot employees, and even higher, contemplate being a ballot employee your self. As Bellows highlighted, it’s a good solution to higher perceive the method and all of the safeguards in place.
After final November’s election, two professors in Maine wrote a column within the BDN in regards to the important function ballot employees serve in American democracy. They mentioned how these employees are each underappreciated and more and more beset by election conspiracy theories, politicization, intimidation and threats towards them.
“But with out these ballot employees, American democracy would fairly actually break down,” professors Jordan LaBouff from the College of Maine and Carrie LeVan from Colby Faculty wrote in late November of 2022. “Whereas most of us pay shut consideration throughout presidential and midterm elections, there are greater than 500,000 elected officers within the U.S. and a slew of referendums, funds initiatives and extra determined through elections. This implies tens of 1000’s of elections should be competently and transparently administered yearly. And but, we perceive so little in regards to the individuals behind these important features.”
There must be little doubt that these important features depend on the effort and time of volunteers who step as much as do these jobs across the state. LaBouff and LeVan additionally labored with city clerks from Bangor, Fort Kent, Orono and Standish to survey greater than 100 ballot employees and acquire extra perception into the individuals volunteering in these roles and why they accomplish that. One factor specifically that jumped out at us from these outcomes was that over 75 % of the respondents recognized as ladies. So it appears like extra Maine males must step as much as the ballot employee plate and assist the administration of our elections.
Maine has seen some fairly spectacular turnout numbers in latest elections. That displays an engaged citizens, but it surely additionally displays the dedication of ballot employees. They assist make the spectacular turnout, and Maine elections on the whole, potential annually.