We want to extend a hearty and heartfelt thanks to all of those Kansans volunteering as poll workers — now and on Election Day.


It takes a whole team to make elections run smoothly, and as 2020 has shown us, voting isn’t confined to a single day. We have absentee ballots and early voting, both of which make our civic duty more convenient. But processing and watching over that process takes people.


The challenge this year, of course, is that so many of our usual poll workers are in high-risk groups for complications from COVID-19. That is, we’ve come to rely on a dedicated cadre of retired folks to staff elections. So we’re seeing a profound change, with many younger people stepping up to take on the work this fall. Some schools are stepping up too, giving their students time to volunteer.


Elections are a fascinating window into the soul of a people. In the United States, participation isn’t required. Election Day isn’t on a weekend, and people don’t have automatic time off to cast their vote. Early voting and mail-in ballots certainly help, but at least in Kansas they require us to take affirmative action.


That is, we have to want to vote. We have to make a plan.


Voting itself, then, isn’t just about casting a ballot for a preferred candidate. It’s an expression of faith in our system of governance. It’s saying that, despite the cynicism and negativity surrounding us, we want to step up and make our system better.


We can have debates about whether the process should be easier, of course. Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach did his darndest to complicate voting in a search for nearly nonexistent fraud. There’s much that could be done to bring even more people into the process.


But we salute those who make it through and who do prioritize their votes.


Which brings us back, in a circuitous way, to the poll workers. They allow us to have our voice in the selection of leaders. This year, they are braving an unpredictable virus that may infiltrate some polling stations. They give of their time and themselves, not to elect any one candidate, but to allow free and fair competition.


Join us in thanking them. And we’ll see you at the polls (if you haven’t voted already).