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Thursday, June 13, 2024

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Journeying to the polls during the pandemic

Greeted by a masked woman, I obeyed her instruction to use the hand sanitizer, knowing that such now was standard procedure to cast a ballot in person in the midst of this disturbingly ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

I’d given some thought to voting early, eventually deciding to stick to my preference of absorbing election-day vibes. So, I rolled out of my house at about 8:20 a.m. and within minutes I was inside my precinct at the family life center at Mississippi Blvd. Christian Church.

The polls opened at 7 a.m. for the State and Federal Primary and Shelby County General Elections, with the closing time set for 7 p.m. per usual. I’d made my choices beforehand, responding politely onsite to poll workers that “I’m good,” meaning I’d pass on the candidate literature.

No line, I walked in and complied with the hand-sanitizing request. I was directed to a table, where another masked woman wearing gloves guided me through the next steps. She took my driver’s license and placed it in a small, black metal holder being used to limit contact.

“I should have had you put it there,” she said, making small talk about the designated precautions as my eligibility was checked.

“You get your own pen. It’s never been used,” she said, letting me know that I was to take it with me.

A clear covering separated us. Such was the case at the next table, where I used my new pen to sign appropriately on a form that also had a protected covering over it at the bottom where my hands would rest.

Everything having checked out, I was given my ballot and pointed to a stack of wooden sticks on the table. I realized I must have had a puzzled look on my masked face when the voting-precinct worker said I could use a stick to make my selections at my next stop, the electronic voting machine.

Stepping over and up to the machine, and with my voting stick in hand, I poked my way through the selection process in short order. Finished, I returned the card that activated the machine I used and turned for the door.

Invited to take an “I voted” sticker, I did, placing it on my daishiki.

“Thank you for voting,” came a voice from behind me.

I smiled, discarding my voting stick in a conspicuous trash container on the way out.

Within minutes, I was back at home/work, washing my hands. The pandemic goes on as does the need to safely live up to the responsibility of voting.



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