District 6 Wooster Middle School
By Karen Mestizo
Karen is one of 16 current and former high school students from Stratford who worked as paid workers at Stratford’s 10 polling locations on Aug. 9th.
I am a 17 year old Stratford High Student and this was now my second time being a paid worker at the election polls. I arrived at Wooster promptly at 5:15 A.M. on August 9th.
As I did last year, I awkwardly waited outside for the Moderator to open the door only to find out it was unlocked the entire time. As I yanked the door open, I confidently expected to feel a gust of cooling air conditioner but much to my surprise, the building was just as hot as it was outside. Weird; It’s probably just starting up, I thought to myself.
I felt the comfort of familiarity as I scanned the room and saw the election poll setup. Last year was my first time working here and I remember awkwardly standing and waiting for directions, failing to bring anything to keep me busy when it got slow, and being very shy because I didn’t know anyone. This year, however, I recognized most faces and was ready to chat all day as well as get some school work done during slow periods (because barely anyone shows up!). Plus, I love human interaction even if it’s just a “Hello, how are you? May I see your ID please?”.
I am an Official Checker: you give me your ID, and I cross you off the list of registered voters. I helped process the few Democrats who came to vote. We had a lot of time on our hands, and thankfully I found myself sitting next to Mr. Collins, who turns out to be a neighbor. Despite the 40+ year age gap, Mr. Collins and I got along very well in between the handful of voters, so we passed the time by gossiping about high school peers, drawing a very professional map of Nichols and North Avenue in an attempt to locate each other’s houses, solving a Sudoku puzzle together, etc.
Hours passed and it got hotter and hotter. Voters became fewer and fewer. We received the unfortunate news that there would be no air conditioning the entire day. Initially, I thought and hoped it was a joke but it was completely real. I aggressively waved a folding hand fan my father dropped off in an attempt to get the open car window effect. I seemed to be melting as I progressively got sweatier and stickier by the minute.
In the afternoon, it poured for a few minutes. I stood outside in the God-sent rain to cool off. When I came back inside, the Moderator told us that there was a fridge in the kitchen we could put food and drinks in. Seriously? This entire time I could have cooled off by sticking my head in the fridge.
After 5 p.m. the countdown to the 8 p.m. close of the polls betan. Turnout remained tiny; I later learned that about 90 percent of registered Democrats and Republicans did not bother to vote. I was quite disappointed as I also expected to see my friends coming to vote.
For 14 hours, I was so ready to slay the day and help voters but there were so few that, to kill time, I had also completed a fly-in program application, edited my resume, destroyed half of a sandwich, and of course, flawlessly did my job as an Official Checker.
Despite the horrible heat and a mosquito that decided to attack me and my table buddy. I had a great time. You will definitely be seeing me again at Wooster on November 8th!”