Our election clerks and poll workers are facing immense challenges, from a global pandemic to the spread of disinformation. Add in the usual challenges of local governance – inconsistent funding, changing laws, evolving voter behavior – and the job seems positively overwhelming.

Kennebunk Town Clerk Merton Brown uses his cellphone flashlight to look over a tabulation printout from a scanning machine while verifying vote counts after the polls closed at Kennebunk Town Hall on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer, File

Yet without fail, our elections are conducted efficiently and smoothly. As a longtime member of the League of Women Voters of Maine, I have seen firsthand the invisible labor that this requires. Some clerks, like Tody Justice here in Scarborough, even go above and beyond by offering extended hours for early voting and distributing a voter guide, with links to election details and ballot item summaries.

Despite these herculean efforts, two Oct. 20 articles in the Portland Press Herald highlight the public’s continued underappreciation of those who administer our democratic processes. One, by the Associated Press (Page A1), noted that despite no evidence of widespread election fraud, “only about half of Americans have high confidence that votes in the upcoming midterm elections will be counted accurately.” Another article, on Page B1, noted that Maine’s U.S. Attorney felt the need to publicly state that “election officials and staff must be able to serve without being subject to unlawful threats of violence.” I cannot imagine the dedication and courage it takes to not only continue to serve, but to do your job well, under these circumstances.

When voting this election season, please thank our clerks and poll workers for their hard work ensuring that Maine remains ranked among the best states in the nation for election administration.

Melissa Murphy

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