Too often we take things for granted. Our Democracy is just one example. As an American Muslim who witnessed the changes in the last four years in our country, I came to realize that I needed to act if I was to help continue to preserve and strengthen the democracy in the country that I idealize so much.
Considering the importance of the election this year and feeling a great responsibility as a citizen, I signed up to be a poll worker for the November general election. I attended the required Zoom meetings to get familiar with my role for Election Day. Unfortunately, I was later informed that there were already enough people to work at the polls and my services would not be needed. While I was disappointed, I was not ready to give up on my civic engagement efforts.
One of my friends mentioned that there was a great demand for volunteers to help sort the mail-in ballots on Election Day, so I signed up for that work instead. This was my first time volunteering at an election and I was excited but also a little apprehensive as I did not know what to expect. On election day at the election headquarters in Delaware County, the security and police presence were very intense — the place was a hive of activity. It was packed with so many staff members and volunteers doing work that is core to the very fabric of our democracy. I felt a great sense of pride serving my country and witnessing the steps involved in this democratic process. Along with so many other volunteers, I was instructed on how to proceed with sorting and inspecting the ballots, in order to get them ready to be counted. Team spirit and enthusiasm were extremely high for all of us. We were all motivated to do our best and contribute to the continued success of our electoral process and our democracy.
What an experience this turned out to be. Our work did not end on election night. We were at it the next day (Wednesday). On Thursday, the work was still going, although with fewer volunteers. However, the comradery and the spirit of pride remained as strong as ever. There were also quite a number of observers from both political parties watching every step of our work. This again created a great transparency in the work being carried out, leaving no room for any doubt about our democratic process. I cannot describe in words the pride I felt in my work; being hands-on with this democratic process was a truly life altering moment and it affirmed my belief in our system of democracy. The icing on the cake was when we realized that Pennsylvania was the tipping-point for the Presidential race. WOW! And it was our work that made it all happen.
In conclusion, I want to reiterate the need to be engaged in our democratic process. Each and every one of us plays a part in ensuring the strength of our democracy. I urge all of you to do your part now and in the future!
Nevan Hamid is a member of CAIR-Philadelphia’s Advisory Board.
Photo by doug turetsky on Flickr.com
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