By Molly Kazan
I typically say I’m an American Jew, but on November 3rd I was proud to be a Jewish American. Fearing a shortage of poll workers across the country, I signed up with Power the Polls for the first time to work the Election Day polls hoping I could help voters cast their ballots for this important election. I also signed up because it felt like if there was ever a time to take action, the time is now. This year has been plagued with uncertainty. I may not be able to control when the pandemic will end, when I’ll get to start graduate school in person, or who will win this election. But for 14 hours yesterday, I played a small role ensuring over 400 Milwaukee citizens at my polling place performed an important civic duty.
Chatting with voters waiting in line about the shockingly warm Wisconsin weather. Registering parents as small children bounced on their laps. Welcoming an elderly woman with little English by speaking with her in my broken Russian. Getting to know my fellow poll workers, a mix of rookies and old timers, while eating pizza delivered by a local news station. Cheering for every 18 year old first time voter.
These are just some of the moments that made my poll working shift in a local church most meaningful. It’s these tiny victories which remind me how wonderful it is to be together, and it’s these tiny victories that make me proud, at least for one day, to be an American.
In Ma Tovu we sing, “how lovely are your tents, oh Jacob, your dwellings, oh Israel.” Working the polls exposed me to a different side of our American democratic process and reminded me how much stronger we are when we work together to create a lovely dwelling place for all. I hope to have a career as a Jewish professional leader where I can create and be a part of spaces where everyone is welcome. But I’ll have to take the day off on November 3rd, 2024- I’ll be working the polls.
Molly Kazan is a first-year student at Brandeis University’s Hornstein Program for Jewish Professional Leadership on the Social Impact MBA Track. She currently lives in Milwaukee, WI.