Editor’s note: This story was updated at 4 p.m. July 30 to reflect that the General Assembly must re-pass vetoed legislation rather than vote to override a veto.
With some races still undecided and more ballots left to count, the 2022 Maryland primary election is not yet behind us.
But as the final votes are tallied, we should all take a moment to thank the thousands of our neighbors who rolled up their sleeves and made this election possible. Every poll worker, election judge, canvasser, volunteer, candidate and vote counter deserve our deepest thanks for making democracy work.
If you voted in person, you saw first-hand how many volunteers show up in service of the democratic process. Greeters directed you to the polling room. Election judges checked you in, provided instructions on how to vote, and escorted you to a voting box. If you recently moved but didn’t update your address, a trained volunteer was there to help you with a provisional ballot. All the while, two election judges of different party affiliations jointly oversaw the integrity of the entire polling site.
Behind the scenes, there are even more volunteers holding up our election infrastructure. Runners and voting operation drivers crisscrossed the county to bring needed supplies and equipment to polling sites. At the end of the day, closing judges shut down the voting equipment and delivered materials back to the Gaithersburg offices of the Montgomery County Board of Elections. Drop box attendants ensured that all ballots left in secure boxes around the county were safely transported to where they can be counted.
All these volunteers work long shifts for relatively little compensation. They come from all sides of the political spectrum — giving their time not for any one campaign or party, but for the value of democracy itself. That is worthy of all of our praise.
We should also extend our thanks to every candidate who stepped up and ran for office, especially for the positions toward the bottom of the ballot that don’t get the big headlines or make the big salaries. Of course, we don’t agree with every candidate on every issue. But putting yourself out there and advocating for your ideas is both difficult and profoundly important for the political vitality of our community. We salute everyone — yes, everyone — who got off the sidelines and put their name on the ballot this year.
Equally crucial are the hundreds of canvassers, door knockers and polling site greeters who endured brutal heat and sunburns to spread the word about candidates they believed in. Their passion has made our local democracy stronger.
Finally, we owe an enormous and ongoing thanks to the Montgomery County Board of Elections and the volunteers diligently working right now to ensure that every single vote is counted.
One way to thank the volunteers who make our democracy possible is to make their jobs easier for future elections. When state legislators return to Annapolis in January, they should make their first order of business re-passing Sen. Cheryl Kagan’s bill, vetoed by Gov. Hogan, that would allow the processing of mail-in ballots prior to election day. If Gov. Hogan had listened to Sen. Kagan, the League of Women Voters and countless others, we would likely have final election results by now.
Democracy is a team sport. It relies on good-hearted people of all backgrounds, political stripes, and ideologies lending a hand. To everyone who enabled us to exercise our civic duty this election: thank you.
If you’re 16 or older and interested in volunteering as an election worker, you can apply on the Montgomery County Board of Elections website.
Rising Voices is an occasional column by Nate Tinbite, a John F. Kennedy High School graduate; Ananya Tadikonda, a Richard Montgomery High School graduate; and Matt Post, a Sherwood High School graduate. All three are recent student members of the Montgomery County Board of Education.