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  • Cathy Saunders, Curator of Education

Polls, Pandemic, and Service


One of the things that drew me to work at Lippitt House Museum was its commitment to the family’s legacy of civic engagement. In an election year, that means that we have been promoting active participation in the electoral process.


The pandemic has added a whole new dimension to voting this year. One concern has been “Will the polls be safe – for the workers and for the voters?” Well, I am happy to answer, as I worked at the polls for the September 9 Primary and I’m signed up to work again on November 3 general election.


Safety First

The staff from the Secretary of State’s office, the Board of Elections, and the local boards of canvassers have been very thorough to create a safe, socially distanced polling process. If you feel safe going to a well-run grocery store, then you should feel safe going to the polls on November 3. The workers were well spaced, there were 6 feet markers on the floor for voters, there was heaps of sanitizer and wipes, and enough pens were provided so that there didn’t need to be sharing. They also had extra masks for people who forgot them.


If you are planning to vote in person – wear a mask, bring your ID, and be prepared that you might wait a little longer than unusual.


Consider Working at the Polls

I was inspired to work at the polls this year because I knew there was (and still is) a shortage of people to this year. It felt like an important civic contribution I could make.


I found it interesting and inspiring. I liked seeing the back end of how our elections work. It was interesting to learn about a neighborhood through the voters who came in. I really enjoyed helping novice voters navigate. I loved meeting two different people who were new citizens and thus first-time voters—one even brought her citizenship papers with her to show!


My fellow poll workers were great people, too. One woman, in her 60’s, has been working the polls since she was 18; another began working the polls as soon as she became a citizen 5 years ago. It was inspiring to see their commitment to our democratic process.


If you think you might be a poll worker this November 3, get in touch with your local board of elections as soon as possible. There is an overview of the application process here

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(401) 272-5101

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199 Hope Street

Providence, RI 02906

(401) 453-0688

lippitthouse@preserveri.org

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