Julie Rodewald, San Luis Obispo County’s outgoing clerk-recorder, needs a few good Cambrians, soon!
I hear you — “No more election talk!” I don’t blame you; I’m tired of political ads, too. Just take a deep breath, hang on for another couple of weeks, and cast your vote.
You are going to vote, aren’t you? Everybody who can vote must vote. Period. It’s our responsibility and our honor.
Sure, our government has problems. Democracy’s not tidy or 100 percent efficient or even 100 percent correct. And yes, a system that’s based on collaboration, cooperation, compromise and consensus frequently doesn’t work.
But for sure it won’t work if we don’t do our job, which is to vote and select the leaders who’ll hash it all out among them (we hope).
That doesn’t mean we need to stand on rooftops and shout out our support. I understand if people don’t want to do that. Me, too.
As a reporter who occasionally wanders into the mud and muck of our political fields, I don’t electioneer or endorse. I might wind up reporting about that candidate or measure, and … well, you can see how ticklish that might get.
When pressed by people who don’t get the message that I’m absolutely not going to state my preferences in public, I say I’m a “demorepublicrat.”
Please note that nothing there is capitalized. That’s because it’s about my belief in our system of government, not my endorsement of a particular political party.
Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines democracy as “a form of government in which people choose leaders by voting,” and a republic as “a country that is governed by elected representatives and by an elected leader (such as a president) rather than by a king or queen.” One’s the concept, the other’s the place. Pretty close, if you ask me.
But for those concepts to work, we have to participate. All of us. You and me and every other adult.
That’s why I have such respect for people who not only vote every single Election Day, but who also sign up, train and serve at the polls to make sure each of us gets the same opportunity to cast ours.
And that’s where Rodewald needs help.
“We are in critical need of poll workers for the Cambria precincts,” she wrote in an Oct. 9 email.
Cambrians are good voters. According to Elections Division stats, 85 percent of those registered in Cambria precincts voted in the 2012 presidential election, as opposed to 79 percent of voters countywide (and an estimated 58 percent nationally).
About 62 percent of Cambrian voters cast ballots by mail, which leaves 38 percent who may need some help at the polls.
Poll workers must be at least 18 years old, U.S. citizens and registered voters in California or lawful permanent residents of the U.S. The county employs about 1,000 of them for each election. Those who “sit” the polls all day earn $97; half-day workers get $48.50. Each gets $20 for attending a class.
I’m guessing the work must be fun as well as a civic contribution. Who works the polls? Norm Stone’s done it for 21 elections, Rodewald said, and Betty Eberle for 16.
Eberle said Oct. 13 that she does it because “it’s something I can do to be a good citizen and help other people. It’s part of my civic duty.”
Rodewald says, “Cambria is fairly unique in the county in that all of the voters vote in the same location (the Veterans Memorial Building), so it really does hearken back to when Election Day was a social event, and friends and neighbors who rarely saw each other had the opportunity to gather for this purpose.”
Groups can “Adopt-a-Poll” to raise a little awareness of and cash for their causes. Friends of the Cambria Library has done it for years. Members fill poll worker slots (usually in shifts), and an organization can earn from $500 to $550 for attending the precinct worker training sessions and working on Election Day.
For details, email the County Clerk-Recorder’s Office at precinctworker @co.slo.ca.us or call 781-4106. Information and a precinct worker application also can be found at www.slovote.com.
And after you’ve signed up as a poll worker — or at the very least have promised to cast your ballot — then let’s chat about volunteering for the North Coast’s free community Thanksgiving dinner Nov. 27.
Kathe Tanner is a reporter for The Cambrian and The Tribune. Her “Slice of Life” column appears biweekly. Email her at ktanner@thetribune news.com and follow her on Twitter @cambriareporter.