On Nov. 3, 2020, voters traveled to the polls to cast their ballots. Among these voters included poll workers who facilitated the process.
Richard Swift, an APSU alumni, worked in the 2020 election eycle as the poll official for District 20B in Montgomery County.
Swift graduated in 1969 with a focus in accounting and political science. Although he is now retired, his background consists of real estate and community leadership in Clarksville, among other endeavors.
Swift spoke about the importance of voting as well as the increase in voter turnout which have been seen across the nation. Rising levels of voter turnout has also been prominent in local Clarksville elections.
Due to his past experience in multiple elections, Swift noted that normally 20 votes are cast within the first hour. However, within the first hour of District 20B’s polling location at Barksdale Elementary School, between 60 and 70 votes had already been cast within the first hour.
10 minutes prior to opening the polling location, there had between 30 and 40 cars outside of people waiting to vote, according to Smith.
While Swift’s generation was not able to vote until the age of 21, voter’s attitudes have shifted in younger demographics, which have been seen in this election cycle.
Swift reflected on witnessing an 18-year-old voter who got to cast their ballot for the first time and discussed the significance behind this experience.
“It’s good for them to get out and realize this is what democracy is all about,” Swift said. “It’s choosing your leaders and the right leader for the right time.”
Swift also noted the value of civic engagement in a community.
“If you have registered, if you keep up with politics and if you’re interested in how this country is growing and what direction we’re going, the best thing to do is get out there and help to do something about it,” Swift said.
As emphasized by Swift, elections don’t stop at the ballot. Volunteering in local elections, taking action in one’s region and connecting with community leaders are some of the other ways that we can use our civic rights and responsibilities.