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.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

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Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

That first car is a rite of passage into adulthood. Specifically, the hard-earned lesson of expectations versus reality. Though some of us are blessed with Teslas at 17, most teenagers receive a car that’s been … let’s say previously loved. And that’s probably a good thing, considering nearly half of first-year drivers end up in wrecks. Might as well get the dings on the lemon, right?

Of course, wrecks aside, buying a used car might end up costing more in the long run after needing repairs, breaking down and just a general slew of unexpected surprises. But hey, at least we can all look back and laugh.

My first car, for example, was a hand-me-down Toyota of some sort from my mother. I don’t recall the specific model, but I definitely remember getting into a fender bender within the first week of having it. She had forgotten to get the brakes fixed … isn’t that a fun story?

Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share their own worst car experiences. Some of them make my brake fiasco look like cakewalk (or cakedrive, in this case). Either way, these responses might make us all feel a little less alone. Or at the very least, give us a chuckle.

Here are 22 responses with the most horsepower:

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As a Gen X parent, it's weird to try to describe my childhood to my kids. We're the generation that didn't grow up with the internet or cell phones, yet are raising kids who have never known a world without them. That difference alone is enough to make our 1980s childhoods feel like a completely different planet, but there are other differences too that often get overlooked.

How do you explain the transition from the brown and orange aesthetic of the '70s to the dusty rose and forest green carpeting of the '80s if you didn't experience it? When I tell my kids there were smoking sections in restaurants and airplanes and ashtrays everywhere, they look horrified (and rightfully so—what were we thinking?!). The fact that we went places with our friends with no quick way to get ahold of our parents? Unbelievable.

One day I described the process of listening to the radio, waiting for my favorite song to come on so I could record it on my tape recorder, and how mad I would get when the deejay talked through the intro of the song until the lyrics started. My Spotify-spoiled kids didn't even understand half of the words I said.

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"Veteran" mom and "new" mom parent differently.

When a couple has their first child, they start out with the greatest of intentions and expectations. The child will only eat organic food. They will never watch TV or have screen time and will always stay clean.

But soon, reality sets in and if they have more kids, they'll probably be raised with a lot less attention. As a result, first-born kids turn out a bit differently than their younger siblings.

"Rules are a bit more rigid, attention and validation is directed and somewhat excessive," Niro Feliciano, LCSW, a psychotherapist and anxiety specialist, told Parents. "As a result, firstborns tend to be leaders, high achievers, people-pleasing, rule-following and conscientious, several of the qualities that tend to predict success."

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