Non-partisan poll challenger describes a surreal scene inside contested counting center

Election 2020 is turning out to be just as batsh*t crazy as 2020 itself, which of course isn't surprising, but certainly is annoying.

Due to Trump's baseless claims that the election is rigged against him and that if only legal votes were counted he'd be winning, states and counties that have spent years honing their elections to make them as secure as possible, that rallied to adjust their systems to accommodate the needs of voters in a global pandemic, and that have managed to pull off hundreds upon hundreds of elections without widespread fraud now have to battle a president publicly attacking the integrity of our entire electoral process.

Good times, America.

No one disagrees that elections should be run fairly. No one disagrees that ballots should be cast within legal boundaries. No one disagrees that every legally cast vote should be counted. No one disagrees that ballot counting should be overseen by representatives of both parties and that poll watchers should raise concerns if they see something questionable in the vote tallying process.

And that has been happening in ballot counting centers across the nation. Unfortunately, so has some ridiculous tomfoolery from the Trump camp.

Julie Moroney is a law student who answered the call for non-partisan poll watchers in Detroit, Michigan, and she shared on Twitter what she experienced as she watched Wayne county ballots being counted.



Moroney wrote:

"I was at the TCF Center in Detroit yesterday as a non-partisan poll challenger. The woman in the maroon shirt with the black mask was one of the GOP challengers I monitored. At one point, she yelled that a ballot needed to be thrown out because it 'looked sticky.' Another time she demanded that the poll workers stop what they were doing and backup all computers in case of power outage or tornado(?). Just baseless, bad faith challenges to slow the process.

And after Trump filed his lawsuit and MI was called for Biden, the GOP strategy shifted to challenge every single ballot. I know this because I overheard their organizers pass on the new message. They didn't even pretend to have a reason for doing so, just repeated 'I challenge this ballot; I challenge that ballot' over and over again as the poll workers tried to count.

At one point, my good friend and law school classmate @sumnertruax looked over at me and said 'this is not how democracy is supposed to work.' It was so true, and so sad. The optics of it all weren't lost on me either. Picture a huge space filled with predominantly Black poll workers just trying to do their gd jobs while white MI GOP challengers hovered over them, yelling at them that they're wrong, doing a bad job, or committing crimes.

The harassment and intimidation — both from the GOP challengers in the room and the GOP supporters banging on the windows trying to get in — is seared onto my brain. Security guards had to escort us out a side entrance so we could leave the building safely.

One of the most jarring things was stepping outside of the building and seeing the sun set across the river in Canada. The juxtaposition of exiting the epicenter of 'American democracy' that felt more like mob rule and seeing the Canadian flag gently flap in the wind a mile away, An example of a functioning democracy...the irony was painful.

I left exhausted, but mostly just sad. I love America, but some of you make it so hard.

How did we get to a place where you challenge other people's ballots simply because you believe they voted for the other guy? How did we get to a place where you file a lawsuit claiming lack of access, when you have 100+ challengers in there fucking shit up? How did we get to a place where you're so deep into conspiracy theories that you claim ballots are coming out of thin air when you are there, witnessing the process, and doing everything in your power to impede it?

Go home. And let the incredible, hard-working and honest poll workers #CountEveryVote."

Poll workers are seriously patriotic heroes right now. What is usually a tedious-but-necessary job has suddenly become a target for quacks and fanatics who simply can't believe that the most unpopular president since Gerald Ford could possibly fail to be reelected in a fair election. Why? Because Trump says so. It's really that simple.

Nevermind the fact that if Democrats were really rigging the election, there's no way on earth Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham would still have their seats. Nevermind the fact that Republicans won races in every one of the swing states where Trump is trying to raise doubts, with the same ballots used to vote for or against him. Nevermind the fact that Trump is a malignant narcissist who literally cannot admit to losing, no matter how clear the outcome of the election.

No one disagrees that legitimate concerns about ballots and votes should be investigated—when there is evidence. Yes, there are occasional irregularities in every single election, and those should be looked into. But you can't just stand behind the presidential podium and claim the election is rigged or fraudulent or stolen because you're losing or because the electoral system that has successfully elected 45—soon to be 46—presidents isn't being run exactly the way you want it to be.

As Moroney's fellow poll watcher said, "This isn't how democracy is supposed to work." Indeed, it is not. And the fact that the dysfunction is coming from the president himself is the saddest thing of all.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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The situation inspired an open letter addressing the issue signed by over 500 former "Jeopardy!" contestants.

Throughout Donoahue's brief run on the show, he signaled the number of games he won through hand gestures. After his first win last Friday, he held up one finger and after his Monday victory, he held up two. That was all fine and good. But it was after his third victory that things got complicated.

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2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.