Pride in the Profession, 1 | Raucous Caucus | Tom Cushing | |

Local Blogs

Raucous Caucus

By Tom Cushing

E-mail Tom Cushing

About this blog: The Raucous Caucus shares the southpaw perspectives of this Boomer on the state of the nation, the world, and, sometimes, other stuff. I enjoy crafting it to keep current, and occasionally to rant on some issue I care about deeply...  (More)

View all posts from Tom Cushing

Pride in the Profession, 1

Uploaded: Oct 27, 2016

Or: "I observed the polls in Reno, just to watch them vote ..."

Every occupation has its foibles and conceits. I will freely admit that mine has earned its share of those ‘so-called-lawyer-jokes.’ * That said, I want to report on two occurrences just this week that have inspired some measure of pride. Today’s edition is personal (sorry, Doug).

I am blogging to you from the Sparks, NV public library, an early-voting polling place. My presence here was facilitated by Facebook friend Kitty Jung, to whom I communicated frustration about nothing to do during the campaign season. Fair California is deep blue, and candidates only appear here to pick-up their allowance. Kitty is a CA-native, a Washoe County Commissioner, and a rising star in Silver State politics.

She put me in-touch with an outlet for similarly discontented California attorneys, a virtual plague of whom are descending on the Reno and Las Vegas environs to monitor for voting problems. These might include eligibility challenges, intimidation, mistakes in application of relevant law, electioneering inside the secular sanctity of the polls and a host of other issues.

We were trained-up and assigned times and places during Nevada’s ample early-voting period (most days from 10/22 through 11/4), as well as on Election Day itself (the 8th). You may believe it as you will – although we are partisan “Observers,” our mandate is to maximize legitimate poll access, regardless of the voters’ likely preferences.

Just last week, some thinly-veiled bellicosities added spice to the impending assignments. Would we arrive to a gaggle of wannabe goons clucking about outside the library? I did take some comfort in the fact that ‘open carry’ apparently does not extend to the insides of government buildings in the state. The mental image of that ragtag moblet of malcontents at the Oregon wildlife refuge, however, was never far from my consciousness.

I’m pleased to report that this exercise in the most fundamental democratic process has gone pretty smoothly over these several days of ‘observing.’ No goons – not even any observers from the GOP side of the national house. ‘My’ poll workers have repeatedly demonstrated that they have no political axe to grind – they’ve worked their way through a number of identification and other issues, all with no apparent regard to status factors or the likely sympathies of those affected.

There have been a few matters of electioneering within the poll radius – a Trump button, for instance, and a similar t-shirt. We’d been advised to bring a large, blank sweatshirt to assist with such matters, which we provided to Ms. T-shirt to ensure her exercise of the privilege (amid her grumbles -- if Hillary loses Nevada by one vote, I may have a few regrets). We also heard of another place where a woman arrived wearing kitty ears and whiskers, and a t-shirt reading “This pussy fights back.” That shirt, too, required covering, but we had a few instances of just kitty ears that passed muster – it’s nearly Hallowe’en, after all.

There is some evidence that folks are on-edge. Granted that we are dealing with a primarily older population (available to vote during week days) – and elders are inclined toward gripe-age. Frustration seemed to lurk just below the surface, as whenever there was a voter whose ID was not current, or one poor soul whose registration could not be located (he’d registered too late, but he fervently wanted to vote, and appeared to be in chronic physical pain – every picture tells a story, and his was past poignant). Another voter was visibly relieved and delighted to know we were there, and which campaign we represented.

The skewed sample we’ve seen of Renoans suggests a population that is unpretentious, patient, openly friendly and informal, a little drab, and in apparently poor health. Mobility is a big problem there, with canes walkers and oxygen bottles aplenty -- and there’s no large group in which I ought to be among the skinnier members. There was also ample evidence of real community – a less self-absorbed population with time for each other: sons and daughters assisting elderly parents, friends helping friends and parents bringing kids to watch them vote.

Each polling place has set records for every day we’ve observed – perhaps people had been told that the TV ads would stop as soon as they’d voted? The totals have been at least 10-15% above 2012 numbers, and one early percentage breakdown I saw went 52D/30R/18 Independent.

Enjoying dinner and the World Series with a few other California ex-pats, we talked about our impressions. The absence of GOP volunteers seems to prove-out the notion of chaos in those campaigns – Nevada is an important state in both the Presidential and Senate sweepstakes, yet nobody from the Trump campaign was there, anywhere. Things may change by-or-on Election Day (by which time 2/3 of the votes will have been cast), but campaigns require organization, and not much was evident on the other side.

So, is it all worth it? Yes, we concluded, on many levels. It is thrilling in a way to see the process work the way it’s supposed-to – all those Civics you once learned, in-action. Early voting, too, is popular and thus useful to maximize turnout, which is an absolutely Good Thing. I also think that the ritual of in-person voting is an important American tradition that binds us together, especially vs. the sterility of mail-in balloting. Sometimes, you just have to slow down and act like a citizen with a stake in our nation.

Poll-watching per se is worth it, as well, despite the absence of chicanery, or even much uncertainty in the processes. We were there, as volunteers, if needed. Our presence added an extra layer of assurance regarding access and procedures – especially for newer voters.

Finally, in this uber-contentious year, I’d like to believe we provided a helpful re-assurance for some that this process is safe, certain – and scrupulously fair. There's a place for lawyers -- it may not be every place or all the time, but I think we performed a public service in the here, and now.

* Here’s a compendium. In the interest of equal time: what’s the difference between a doctor and God?
We need your support now more than ever. Can we count on you?


 +   9 people like this
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Oct 28, 2016 at 9:56 am

Yes've just done a very GOOD DEED! HOOORAY! VIVA TOM!


There's nothing like VOTING in the USA! NADA!

I'm not a bit surprised that there were no R's present as many seem to be jumping ship.......hahahahahahahahaha...I guess the R's realize that their candidates are ALL coo-coo...tickles me no end! It's a fractured party with no end in sight as long as their rigid and hate filled views remain center stage...hahahahahahahaha...NO MERCY FOR ALL THE R BUTT HEADS!

It's gonna be Hillary and Bill in la CASA BLANCA for the next 4 years and I don't mean maybe!

We're off to a dog picnic before it's over...HOORAY AMERICA! VIVA!

 +   16 people like this
Posted by zzzz, a resident of Diablo,
on Oct 29, 2016 at 9:22 pm

Supercilious writer, why is this guy here? No value, other than the attraction to despise. Cholo shreds him with reverse logic every day. Has become the cholo show.

 +   20 people like this
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Oct 30, 2016 at 3:02 pm

z-z...seems to moi that you have a rapidly shifting reality...are you advising others to vote for Palin again? ...why not go to the market and cook up a few porkchops 'n might bounce back to reality...duh

catch you later z-z the pork head!!!

 +   3 people like this
Posted by rosalindr, a resident of San Ramon,
on Oct 31, 2016 at 12:45 pm

rosalindr is a registered user.

Does this mean I can't wear my "Gary Johnson climbed Mount Everest T-shirt?" Do you think any of the poll workers would know he's a candidate?


 +   12 people like this
Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Oct 31, 2016 at 4:11 pm

Hi Roz: I think your best chance of wearing that t-shirt into the polling place is to convince the registrar that your name is "Gary Johnson." And who knows, if candidate Trump is right about the election, maybe you'll be successful at voting under that name, as well.

cholo: don't worry about Mr. zed. I don't put a lot of stock in comments that arrive deep-on into Saturday evenings. They tend toward the angry, and may be the blogging equivalent of drunk dialing -- witw is "attraction to despise?" Probably best ignored. There -- how's That for supercilious?

 +  Like this comment
Posted by alice, a resident of Del Amigo Continuation High School,
on Feb 24, 2017 at 12:38 am

All of us sometimes need a rest, travelling is the best way. As a writer I am sure that the inspiration comes after travel - Web Link

Follow this blogger.
Sign up to be notified of new posts by this blogger.



Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Get important election coverage sent straight to your inbox daily.

Premarital & Couples: The Blame Game: In Which No One Wins
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,847 views

Bay Area United Way issues its political recommendations
By Tim Hunt | 7 comments | 1,026 views

Assessing Online Learning—Before, During and After COVID-19
By Elizabeth LaScala | 0 comments | 228 views