Supermarket shelves are bare. Gasoline prices are dropping. The entire country of Italy is shut down. These are just a few of the indicators that we are living during strange times.
Amidst chaos and uncertainty, the democratic process marches on. Tomorrow I’m scheduled to work as a poll worker for Florida’s presidential preference primary election at the Everglades K-8 Center in South Miami-Dade. Although Louisiana and Georgia have delayed primaries, the Sunshine State’s polls are scheduled to continue with business as usual.
In the wake of the pandemic, Miamians are swinging from incredulity about the severity of the situation to hyper-cautious and fighting over toilet paper in Publix aisles.
Poll workers are no exception to participating in widespread public panic. I have been a poll worker twice before, but this time I have reservations.
To assure that they still have workers for today and tomorrow, March 16 and 17, the Miami-Dade County Elections Department has offered a bonus.
“As a sign of our appreciation for your commitment on Election Day, all poll workers who are assigned to a precinct and fulfill both their Monday set-up and Tuesday election day duties will be paid an additional $100,” reads an email I received from Supervisor of Elections Christina White.
The email goes on to list basic precautions: hand sanitizer will be provided to voters upon check-in, polling locations will have disinfectant spray and gloves.
This does little to quell the anxiety of understanding the inevitable: we will be making contact with an inadvisable amount of people. It will force us to ponder whether we should be in contact with our more vulnerable family members and friends.
The responsibility to stay clear of other people weighs on those of us who have little choice but to oppose the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control. With a 70-year-old father, a grandmother with Alzheimer’s in a home and a sister with respiratory issues, I can’t help but feel like I may pose a risk to the people I love in exchange for $175.08 plus bonus.
For now, I only hope that social distancing will lessen the likelihood of further spread and the subsequent impact it will have on our society. I also hope voting is done quickly.