2020 Election


Agnes Kurtzhals

“When preparing to vote in any election, do your research not only on the candidates, but also your state’s voting rules and the rights you have as a voter.”

Savannah Ameen, News Writer

My mom and I walked out the front door and down the street to our small-town city hall where our designated polling site is. It was a short walk, just up one block, and as we approached, we could tell there was only a short line. As we stood our place in line there was much whispering and many lingering stares in our direction. All of which was expected, but the discomfort that arose in my stomach was something a first-time voter should not feel.  

However, my mother raised a strong, independent woman who was not afraid of a few middle-aged men with differing opinions and political views. Honestly the whispers did not phase me at all, that is typical small-town behavior, and I was just there to vote.  

It was finally our turn to walk in the door, go through the identification checks, and fill out my very first presidential ballot. That is until an elder from the community stepped in front of me.  

“I’m sorry, but you cannot come in and vote unless you go home and change,” the lady said. 

To that I looked down at my dark blue, Biden shirt, back up to the lady and said, “Why?” 

“Well, you cannot wear that shirt in here and you’re gonna have to take off that mask too,” she said. “Or put one a different on.” 

I kept pushing., “I’m definitely not taking off my mask and I want to know why you are refusing to let me vote?” I questioned.  

And then the staring contest began. I was not moving from my spot in line. Although it was short, it was still a fifteen-minute wait, and I had places to be, just as everyone else that showed up to vote that day.  

When she finally realized I was not backing down, she asked quietly, “Can we please move this conversation over there?” pointing to the street corner and pulling her mask down.  

“Sure,” I said, using all the strength within me to not roll my eyes or show any weakness.  

While I was stepping away there were still people walking in and out of the polling site, one of which wearing a red shirt with five uppercased letters and 2020, I’m sure you can figure that out. I laughed to myself and pointed it out to the lady which she responds that she must have missed him going in.  

While she continued to talk of the so-called rules of her polling site, I pulled up Iowa’s secretary of state webpage with Election Day frequently asked questions and other voter information.  

I politely, but boldly read aloud, “Voters may wear a campaign button or clothing when they go to vote but must leave the polling place as soon as they are done voting. Campaigning or electioneering of any kind in a polling place is illegal; loitering in a polling place while wearing political items is considered electioneering.” Word for word, directly from the website.  

And with that she responds, “Can I pray for you?” 

I could not help but to laugh out loud, in her face when saying, “Sure, because you know I actually am a Christian,” knowing her actions were very inappropriate. She then bowed her head, resting her hands on mine and my mother’s shoulders and began to pray. Did I mention this was during a pandemic?  

Moral of the story, voters need to be informed of their rights, voting rules of their state, and when to stand up for themselves when something is wrong. After voting, I immediately went home and began calling people of what had just happened. Some family and some members and leaders of political organizations of Woodbury County. All of them instructed me to do one thing, and so I called the county’s auditor office.  

After explaining the situation to one of the interns answering phone calls, I was immediately connected with Patrick Gill (Woodbury County auditor).  He then drove to my local poll site and fired the woman on the spot. Later informing my mother and I how she had worked for the county for several years and knew better than to do what she had done that morning. We had a great conversation with him and his team about knowing your rights as a voter and appropriate apolitical behavior standards that poll workers should be held to.  

Therefore, when preparing to vote in any election, do your research not only on the candidates, but also your state’s voting rules and the rights you have as a voter. According to the census.gov, 67% of citizens 18 and over voted in the 2020 election. This number was up about 5% in comparison to the previous election. The thought of other citizens being turned away from voting at polling sites, is unsettling. Knowing that if it happened to me in small-town, USA, it could have happened to anyone, anywhere.