Undoubtedly, November 4 was the most important day nationwide in 2008. I wanted to be a part of that somehow, so I decided to volunteer at the local City Clerk’s Office on Tuesday.

When I arrived at 9AM, the energy was already high. Outside, there were picketers, TV crews and various political hopefuls to greet the voters who came in to cast their votes. Volunteers were ready with their ‘I Voted’ stickers, and people were milling around everywhere.

Once inside, there was a lot to do: over 2,000 absentee ballots needed to be opened, counted (many times double- and triple-counted) and recorded, the ballot-feed machine needed to be emptied, voters needed to be checked in, ballots needed to be handed out and we needed to just be generally available to assist with the process. The day went amazingly smoothly—by about 2PM, more than 3/4 of Washington County’s registered voters in the Montpelier Disctrict had already had their ballots counted.

Since I spent a great amount of time working with the absentee ballots—including hand-transferring the emailed ballots onto the official ballot paper—I got to see how many people voted. Every ballot was anonymous by this point—someone elase had already recorded the absentee voter’s name onto the master list of registered voters, and yet someone else had opened the envelope and put the ballot in a pile (we were an assembly line of about 7 people—a well-oiled machine after a handful of ballots!). It was fascinating to see the voting trends (or seemingly lackthereof); it reminded me of the multiple-choice standardized tests I took in high school after a while!

I was able to do this as part of Small Dog’s Volunteerism Initiative, wherein each employee is mandated to take a (paid) day to volunteer in the community each year. It means a lot to Don to give back to the community, and this is a way that people can do their part without what may be the largest deterrent—sacrificing their pay. I have done a fair amount of unpaid volunteer work in the past, and the bottom line is that it just feels good, and it’s the right thing to do. I’m encouraged to go beyond this one day a year—no matter how busy I may feel—and be more active in community endeavors and volunteerism in the future. With that said, I’m already planning on 2010…

Check out our Flickr page to see some photos from my day at the polls.

Find out more about Small Dog’s programs.

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