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 Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

Wil Wheaton speaking to an audience at 2019 Wondercon.

In an era of debates over cancel culture and increased accountability for people with horrendous views and behaviors, the question of art vs. artist is a tricky one. When you find out an actor whose work you enjoy is blatantly racist and anti-semitic in real life, does that realization ruin every movie they've been a part of? What about an author who has expressed harmful opinions about a marginalized group? What about a smart, witty comedian who turns out to be a serial sexual assaulter? Where do you draw the line between a creator and their creation?

As someone with his feet in both worlds, actor Wil Wheaton weighed in on that question and offered a refreshingly reasonable perspective.

A reader who goes by @avinlander asked Wheaton on Tumblr:

"Question: I have more of an opinion question for you. When fans of things hear about misconduct happening on sets/behind-the-scenes are they allowed to still enjoy the thing? Or should it be boycotted completely? Example: I've been a major fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer since I was a teenager and it was currently airing. I really nerded out on it and when I lost my Dad at age 16 'The Body' episode had me in such cathartic tears. Now we know about Joss Whedon. I haven't rewatched a single episode since his behavior came to light. As a fan, do I respectfully have to just box that away? Is it disrespectful of the actors that went through it to knowingly keep watching?"

And Wheaton offered this response, which he shared on Facebook:

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."