A student's perspective on volunteering at the polls on election day

Massachusetts polling centerPhoto/Getty Images

Poll workers at a Massachusetts polling location

Alison Hagani ’22 volunteered as a poll worker in Waltham on Election Day and developed a newfound appreciation for the democratic process.

Hagani arrived at Waltham’s Ward 7 — the precinct where voters living in Brandeis’ neighborhood cast ballots  —  at 6 a.m. and didn’t leave until 9 p.m., shortly after state polls closed.

“It was a pretty long day for me. There was a big rush of voters in the beginning, and we had to make preparations to our voting areas because of COVID-19, but I had a really enjoyable time,” said Hagani, who is originally from New Haven, Connecticut.

Alison Hagani
Photo/Alison Hagani

The sociology and women’s and gender studies double major checked in voters, helped hand out ballots and “I Voted” stickers, and worked at the help desk checking voters’ identifications and registrations.

“We tried to make it as quick, seamless and safe as possible, and I have to say everyone was very respectful of social distancing and wearing masks,” Hagani said. “I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I attended a mandatory poll working training, and it seemed like there were a lot of logistical procedures to keep in mind that could complicate the process, but it went seamlessly and everyone was really nice.”

Hagani said Ward 7 counted roughly 700 ballots, including both in-person and mail-in voters. With the results of many elections still undeclared on the morning of Nov. 4, Hagani said she has a new appreciation for the time it takes to get calls right.

“After polls closed we moved to counting ballots, for two precincts, in Waltham, in a smallish state, but it still cemented a sense of empathy for me about what’s going on right now in other states,” Hagani said. “It made me a lot more patient and respectful for the admittedly annoying but really important, long process for anticipating results.”

She also says she will encourage her friends to serve as poll workers in the future.

“I have a lot more respect for this process and would encourage others to volunteer as poll workers,” Hagani said. “It’s beautiful to see people vote and exercise their right.”

MORE: Read an essay by Molly Kazan, MBA'22, who also volunteered as a poll worker on Election Day.

Categories: General, Student Life

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