As you may or may not have known, Chicago had a historic election on April 2, 2019.
As a result, we have elected our first black woman and first LGBTQ person as Mayor of Chicago. Moreover, we managed to potentially turn City Council one-tenth democratic socialist.
Regardless of how you feel about Tuesday's outcome, it was most certainly historic. But a lot of people don't really know who makes sure that elections like these run smoothly and free from outside influences: election judges.
The April 2 election was my fourth election judging. What an election judge essentially does is help check in voters, make sure everyone has a smooth experience voting and making sure that everyone and everything is in order at the polls.
It sounds easy, right? Yeah, you could argue that it is. After you survive the 4-hour training and the 15-hour work day beginning at 4 a.m., it's actually a pretty easy job that gets you an easy $220.
The task sounds daunting and might even trivial, as you're essentially a customer representative for your local government.
But for me, being an election judge was never about the money or waking up at the butt crack of dawn: it was about facilitating local democracy.
I'm not going to lie: it really does feel like hell on earth waking up at 4 a.m. to work an election that typically has paltry turnout. Moreover, on April 2 I started a whole new set of classes at DePaul (we use a quarter system), so it was also hard getting acclimated to that alone.
But without election judges, there would be no one there to stop shady things from going on as you exercise your right to vote. No one shoving mailers in your face both inside and outside. No one to stop anyone from tampering with ballots for your favorite candidate. No one to make sure no one harasses you for exercising your constitutional right to vote your conscience.
Democracy is a very problematic system, but only because not a lot of people partake in it. As an election judge, though it's a daunting, day-long obligation, it's my duty to make sure that democracy retains its importance, credibility, and that everyone participates in a safe and cordial way.
So, the next time you go out and vote, thank an election judge for their service. It may seem silly, but judges are seldom mentioned when it comes to guardians of democracy.
In fact, maybe even consider being one yourself. Because after all, we're all in this thing together.