If you work in the town clerk’s office or showed up as a poll worker at the primary in September or for the general election that culminated a week ago Tuesday, this process was like none you’ve ever seen.
From the huge number of ballots sent out and mailed back, to the prep work needed for the weeks of early voting, to the stocking of masks and hand sanitizer, set-up of shields and demarcation for social distancing at the polls, this was an election for the record books.
And we’re not even talking about who was on the ballot.
When the pandemic arrived to make 2020 the interminable slog that it is, voting got complicated. Officials in Massachusetts responded to the concerns of many voters afraid to go to a polling place for fear of catching the virus. Millions of ballots were sent out – there are more than 4.8 million registered voters in the state – and many people took advantage of that option, marked them and sent them back. Still others went to cast a ballot at the temporary Senior Center in Ballardvalle during the early voting period, when lines were shorter and crowds rare. Then came Election Day for the final burst of in-person voting, as residents lined up to funnel in, mark their ballots and leave.
In the midst of all that were poll workers checking names and handing out ballots, custodians moving from one voting station to the next to wipe each surface down quickly between voters, and more poll workers and police officers to help safely direct voters outside.
A week ago Tuesday, after the polls closed at 8, the long process of counting the ballots and tabulating results went well into the night – a process that continued for the rest of the week in several states.
Those Massachusetts voters who cast ballots -- more than 3 million, according to the secretary of state, 19,825 of whom live in Andover -- could rest easy knowing they had done their civic duty.
But it’s the poll workers and clerks who put themselves on the line during the pandemic to make sure this vital democratic process went as planned, even if those plans had to be revised and amended to accommodate the unexpected.
For those who did those thankless jobs, we say thank you.
Thank you for what you did so we could vote.