There are those who will grumble about low turnout, the election outcomes in general. Here’s a bit of space, stories from both sides of the state line, devoted to those who worked to make turnout higher.
Nelson R. Gabriel went to Mount Zion Baptist Church in Kansas City, Kan., to vote. What he saw concerned him. Two women, believed to be immigrants from Nigeria, were having trouble communicating with poll workers. Gabriel thought the women were being turned away, despite showing identification and having the mailed card noting the church as their polling site.
But he had an appointment to make, so he voted and moved on. By the time Gabriel returned a few hours later to see what had happened, the problem had been solved.
Gabriel had told someone about what he saw, who then reported it to an election hotline. The polling spot had received a follow-up call within less than an hour of the report.
Never miss a local story.
It took some patience, but poll workers had taken the women aside. They convinced and helped them to call someone with better English skills for translations.
Poll workers explained the episode to Gabriel, easing his concerns. It turns out the women were flustered when a poll worker asked their addresses, a way of confirming their identities. The workers showed him written instructions from the Kansas secretary of state’s office covering address verification.
Across the state line, teenagers showed up in the morning at Communities Creating Opportunity, many not old enough to cast their own ballots. About 40 students from Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy in Overland Park got dropped off at the midtown offices of CCO.
They took their places at long tables and cheerfully began their work. Dialing, over and over. For several hours, they called people, encouraging them to vote.
It’s grunt work, for sure, the monotonous script dutifully read, taking care to listen to voters’ concerns or problems.
Some of the students drove people needing rides.
Two students escorted a blind man. But when they entered his polling place, workers didn’t have a Braille ballot available. Nor did they seem willing to set up a machine that could read the ballot to the man.
So the students did it, the man telling them which circles to fill in for his choices.
These are just three votes that could have easily not been completed.
But if every vote matters, then surely every effort that helps it to be cast is worth applause as well.