Poll Observing

So this election Tuesday. I got involved in it beyond casting my own ballot by agreeing to be a poll observer. Basically invisible, these are people who are present at polling places, even early voting. They speak to no one. They may or may not wear a badge designating who they are. They carry a clip board and pen to note any suspicious incident that cannot be resolved at the polling place. These reports are given to the local and state boards of elections as well as all political parties.

Observers go through rigorous training, are given state statutes regarding election procedure and protocol for observing. Contact information if an incident requires immediate attention or any questions arise.

It sounds much worse than it is. Once the chief judge of the polling place where I observed found my name on her list I was told where to sit and to keep my mouth shut. I did both of these for my allotted 4 hours. During that time I saw nothing that alarmed me, nothing worthy of concern.

I did however, receive an education in how parents are raising their children.

Being a Saturday many parents do not have alternative care for their kids and probably want to be with them anyway so many children accompanied their parents. I saw strollers, wagons, many by the hand or in their mom’s or dad’s arms. The “little ones” big enough to walk were what surprised me. They were holding their mom or dad’s iPhones, iPads or car keys. As though Mom and Dad have abdicated authority over these on weekends. When I was a kid if I even thought about touching my mother’s purse, car keys or anything personal it might be months before I was allowed to go anywhere with her again. There were definite boundaries between what was the adult’s and what belonged to the child. Doesn’t seem to apply these days.

This separation of personal property lent a modicum of respect from the child for the parent. This made it apparent who “the Mommy” was here. There were clear boundaries between us and children were more than just “little people”, we were not adults. We had different rights and even though we may have at times wanted to wear the high heels and buy the groceries, the fact remained we did not. We could not manage such responsibilities and our parents were right in keeping us from thinking or pretending we could.

I saw little ones grabbing the iPhone right out of Mom or Dad’s hands, playing with it, then thrusting it back at them dictating what game they now wanted to play and dancing impatiently until the device was handed back. I saw screaming tantrums over not receiving it quickly enough, or not receiving it at all. Maybe the parents think this is cute. Or maybe they are too tired after a long work week to argue or fight over this. But I am glad I was allowed to be a child in my childhood and not permitted to usurp my parents’ private space.

Besides, I might have dropped and shattered the iPhone.

 

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