Volunteering as a Precinct Election Official is just like being a professional baseball player. Or, at least, the way that I imagine it. Professional baseball players talk about getting called up to the Major Leagues. Something very much anticipated, but very much outside of my power to influence. I put in the work. I prepared myself. But I was in a holding pattern.
Until last night.
Just a little before seven o’clock on Sunday evening, my phone rang with an unfamiliar number from our local 330 area code. We had guests coming over at seven, so I deferred the call to voicemail. But I had a hunch. When I saw that the caller left a voicemail, my intuition grew stronger. So I quickly listened to the message, and my pulse quickened at the words coming out of my phone:
Hi Eric. This is Erin calling from the Board of Elections. I just had a call off over in Kent, and I was hoping that you’d be able to fill in and work on Election Day over there. Please give me a call back for the details and to see if you are able My number is…
I received instructions to be on “Stand By” last week. So I decided to return the call immediately. Erin picked up on the first ring. And she quickly confirmed that I have indeed been “Called Up” to the big leagues. I received my assignment — Precinct 4A, with the Kent State University Student Recreation and Wellness Center as the voting location — along with some instructions. And when I hung up the phone, the swiftness of it all struck me. Like a baseball player who suddenly needs to get from a home game with the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens to a road game with the Major League Detroit Tigers playing in Seattle.
It all starts at 5:45 AM tomorrow: Election Day.
This seems like a particularly interesting year to serve as a Precinct Election Official. But honestly, my emotions tell me that I would have been excited to play this role under any circumstances. History and politics fascinate me (even though they can also frustrate me when they’re in the “Current Events” stage). I feel convicted by the need for average citizens to support and uphold our Democracy, to make sure that every voice is heard. I recognize that the flexibility of my job and my relatively-strong immune system allow me a unique opportunity to serve in place of the retirees who make up the majority of Precinct Election Officials. So I’m excited to serve. “Put me in, Coach. I’m ready to play.”