The upcoming presidential election may be the most important electoral contest of my lifetime.
And in one of the nation’s most critical swing states, it will also be the most logistically challenging election in my lifetime.
Social-distancing measures that have become necessary to slow the spread of the global pandemic are wreaking havoc with our election systems.
Governor Wolf and local election officials are calling on as many people as possible to take advantage of Pennsylvania’s new, no-excuse absentee mail option to avoid going to the polls in person.
But that’s not an option for everybody — which is why fully staffed polling places will be key to preventing long lines that could discourage participation and weaken confidence in the electoral process.
Many poll workers, however, are at heightened risk if they contract the virus that causes COVID-19. Most poll workers are seniors, and others have pre-existing conditions.
In response, Philadelphia elections officials have put out a call to recruit young, healthy people to be the boots on the ground in November, keeping our electoral system running while protecting those who are most vulnerable.
As we looked toward November, my husband and I decided that we fit the bill as healthy thirty-somethings with no serious pre-existing health conditions.
We felt that it was important to sign up to do our part to ensure a fair and accurate election.
I’m going to be serving as the minority inspector, and he’s going to be the clerk, at a polling place near our home in West Mount Airy.
Though we’ve never done anything like this before, we’re looking forward to the online training provided by the city commissioners to prepare us for Election Day.
I’m also pleased that Ceisler Media has taken the opportunity to provide a day off to any of my colleagues who want to work the polls on Election Day.
While everyone needs to decide for themselves what level of risk they feel comfortable with, I’m hoping that working the polls will let me play a small part in keeping our democracy on track.
Plus, at a time when normal political events are canceled — there won’t be any election luncheon at Relish or election night parties this year — being a minority inspector in the 22nd Ward in Northwest Philadelphia is probably the best way I have to play a meaningful role in the political process this November.
Anthony Campisi is an Associate Director in Ceisler Media's Philadelphia Office.