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The new road we will travel…change

Saturday November 8, 2008

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Amherst College Choral Society. Can you find Dennis?
This weekend Dennis and I are attending homecoming at Amherst College. It is a sentimental journey for Dennis, class of 1968. I have been on this campus a number of times over the past 30 years, but yesterday was special for a number of reasons. While taking an afternoon stroll we came across a wonderful new, slightly larger than life-size statue of Robert Frost. I stood there admiring this work thinking of how the campus must have looked when Robert Frost was an English professor at Amherst, off and on from 1916 to 1938. I thought if Robert Frost were alive today what might he think of our most recent election. The last election Robert Frost witnessed was 48 years ago today when John F. Kennedy made history as the first Irish Catholic to be elected President of the United States. I remember that election night. I was eleven years old and I remember watching the returns with my Irish Catholic parents. I remember the tears in their eyes. When John Kennedy was inaugurated on January 20, 1961, he invited Robert Frost to speak at the inauguration. It was remarkable.

This week Dennis and I watched the election returns with our adult children. We watched History unfolding. Again remarkable. So today, again I will walk the Amherst College campus with Dennis, we will watch a football game, meet old friends, enjoy a concert.

And we will ponder the words of Robert Frost in his “The Road Not Taken”.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Here’s to the new road we will travel together…

Reading Time: < 1 minute

True to form Google is prepared for Election 2008. Check out Google’s Embeddable Election Map. Watch real time election results. Use the drop down menu to alternate between Presidential race, House and Senate.

Here are some online resources for today’s elections.

On the Issues

Fact Check

Get out there and vote. Don’t forget your “I voted” sticker as many Starbucks, Ben and Jerrys, and Kripsy Creme etablishments will be rewarding those exercising their right to vote with a free tall coffee, free scoop of ice cream or star-shaped doughnut with red, white and blue sprinkles respectively.

Reading Time: 6 minutes

“Poll workers are a crucial element of the election process. You can buy new machines, you can educate voters, but really the poll workers are the bridge between the polling place and the voter.”…Doug Chapin, Director of electionline.org

You remember the 2000 presidential election, don’t you? One of my clearest memories of that day and the days and weeks that followed were the complaints by some voters that the poll workers were not helpful, were too old, and were not able to follow the various rules set down by the local registrars of voters. That was the year I made a promise to myself to become involved as a poll worker. I thought back to my youth when my mother served during every election as a poll worker in San Diego county and I said to myself why not continue the tradition. Why leave this burdensome task to only the retired senior citizens? Since 2000 I have tried to work every election in Orange County California and this year I will serve as a pollworker in Pima County Arizona.

Do you know how many Americans are needed to work the polls in any given general election year? It is about 2 million (with the average age of 72)or about 1% of total number of registered voters. When you go to vote you usually are expecting two basic needs to be met: (1) you want the polls to open on time and (2) you want the process to be expedient. But did you ever wonder what goes into meeting these basic needs?

Well, the truth is the parameters vary from state to state, but here are a few basics:
*Each poll worker must be a registered voter in the county they intend to work.
*Each poll-worker must attend a training class, usually about two hours.
*Each poll-worker is expected to study the instruction and reference manual(in Pima County, Arizona, this manual is 43 pages)
*Each poll-worker might be expected to assist in setting up the polling place the evening preceding the election
*Each poll-worker is expected to report to the polls one hour prior to the polls opening. (in Pima County, Arizona, the polls open at 6:00AM)
*Each poll-worker is expected to remain through the 7:00PM closing and to assist in preparing the ballots for shipment to the Registrar’s Office, which can take until 8:30PM. And in Pima County the poll-worker is not to leave the polls for any reason, not even to get something to eat!!!
*Each poll-worker must follow strict guidelines regarding attire (cannot wear anything political in nature)
*Each trained poll-worker is expected to show up, unfortunately it has been reported that 2 out of three 3 trained workers in New York fail to show up on Election Day!
*In Pima County Arizona, each poll-worker will be paid $140 for the 15-17 hours they work!

All of the above aside, the pollworkers are expected to be able to sufficiently answer fairly complicated questions regarding people’s right to vote. If voters arrive at the wrong poll, the pollworker must assist them to find their correct poll, and the list goes on.

I write this today; not just because it is Saturday, but I am hopeful that maybe it will inspire you to think about working the polls. It will give you a whole new perspective on what goes on behind the scenes to insure that we all can exercise our right to vote. See you at the polls…

Reading Time: 2 minutes

If you missed last nights VP debates between Govenor Palin and Senator Biden, here is a video summary. For myself, keeping in mind my low expectations after the presidential debate, I was pleasantly surprised with the part I saw. Maybe it is because these opponents are a little looser than the presidential candidates were, but to be positive I thought there was less ‘speaking over the allotted time and repeating what had already been said’, over and over again.

Either way, the ‘winner’ of the debate varies depending on who you ask, but if you didn’t catch the debates, feel free to use this video and stay informed.