Despite our differences, I saw the best of our country while working the polls

LSU professor Will Mari served as a poll worker on Election Day Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, in Baton Rouge.
LSU Professor Will Mari served as a poll worker on Election Day Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.

Published: Nov. 7, 2020

By: Will Mari, LSU Manship School News Service

The skin behind my ears was burning.

I put some tissue paper behind the cutting elastic holding my mask on tight, and that reduced it to a dull ache. I had been sitting for nearly eight hours and had four hours to go before the polls closed. And I was loving it.

Let me explain.

A few months ago, I was reading a news story about how our local election officials in Louisiana were worried about finding enough people to work as poll commissioners — commonly called “election workers” — due to the pandemic. I’d been wanting to do something to serve my community, “even” something small, and volunteered, taking the online test with the Louisiana Secretary of State and contacting the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court office.

Many other young people had the same idea, and a number answered the call for help. Last Friday, I got a phone call from Fred Sliman, who works for the Elections Department as a spokesman.

He had received my application and asked where I wanted to work — anywhere close to my precinct in Mid City, in Baton Rouge, I told him, would be great, nervously adding that I was a newbie at all this.

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