A poll worker’s story in the town of Cumberland

A poll worker’s story in the town of Cumberland

Recognizing the importance and power of everyone’s vote in our democracy, like many others, I wanted to do what I could to make sure everyone who was eligible was able to vote and that their vote got counted. I volunteered to be a poll worker in the town of Cumberland.

After receiving some excellent virtual training from the R.I. Board of Elections, the big day arrived. The poll workers at my location were an interesting group of seven diverse women and me, a senior white male. Only two had prior poll worker experience and I was not one of those two. Then, everything just clicked. Using the instructions provided by the R.I. Board of Elections and Cumberland Board of Canvassers, we worked together as a team to get everything set up, testing the equipment and making made sure everyone had supplies. When the polls opened, the line of voters stretched around the building.

Throughout the next 13 hours, hundreds of people, Republicans, Democrats and independents, voted at our voting place. What I observed during those hours of voting was impressive and heartwarming. Every voter wore masks and socially distanced. Every voter was polite, even when there was some problem requiring a bit more work to cast their vote. The poll workers knew their job and worked well as a team. The Cumberland Board of Canvassers was always there for us.

Although the poll workers worked long hours without any real break, they were always smiling, welcoming and made sure everyone qualified got to vote. We met several people excited and anxious to be voting for their first time. When a new voter signed in, one of the poll workers would shout out, “First time voter!” and many would break out in applause. We watched very senior citizens come to vote, some barely able physically, but determined to cast their vote. When voters put their ballot in the voting machine, almost all stepped back wide eyed and anxiously awaiting the machine’s approval. When the machine accepted their vote, a big smile emerged. We thanked them for voting, and they thanked us for our service as poll workers.

When the polls closed, the poll workers spent the next hour working as a team going through the process of making sure the votes cast were secure and that the tabulation was properly submitted to the Board of Elections. At the end of the day, we all realized that we, poll workers and voters alike, were all just Cumberland citizens politely working together to make sure that all voices were heard on this all-important Election Day, no matter what the results would be! It was a great day!

I would like to give a shout out for a job done well done to my great teammates; Clerk Charlotte Senno and Supervisors Aurora S. Nunes, Anissa R. Ciesynski, Julie A. Healy, Caitlin M. Ricciarelli, Jessica N. Johnson and Kristin N. Nicastro!

W. Dennis Aiken