There was a story today in the Birmingham News about a 75 year old couple and their dedication to volunteering to their community. The interesting sentence from the story is that the husband, “Roy Jowers, recently entered his 50th year as a volunteer poll worker.” As I read this I realized that, here is a man who dedicated himself in his mid-twenties to participating in an important civic activity and did so throughout the various travails we all experience in live.
Moreover, think about how voting has changed in his 50 years as a poll worker. Not only has the technology changed–from paper ballots that were hand counted to electronic tabulation–but in Alabama, African Americans were enfranchised, poll taxes were eliminated, the Republican party became competitive, voter registration became much easier, 18 to 21 year olds were given the franchise, and voters gained new rights to information and assistance they had never had before. In 2006, he will work in a polling place that allows individuals with disabilities to vote unassisted, probably for the first time ever.
It is an amazing thing to think about how our American democracy has become so robust during just the 50 years Roy has worked as a poll worker.