I just want to share this article with you and to encourage you to do volunteer work so you could have a better idea on how your community operates.
The Gazette Newspaper
Wednesday, Nov. 9,2005
by Jaime Ciavarra
Growing up in dictator-run Haiti, Michel Nau didn't have the chance to vote.
So when he moved to the Washington area in his mid-20s, the 50-year-old financial analyst never missed his chance. For the past two years he has taken a vacation day from his job with Georgetown University to work the Gaithersburg polls, and spent this past Tuesday signing in voters at the Asbury Methodist Village polling place.
‘‘We are lucky to live in a country where people can vote without fear,” said Nau. ‘‘You read the newspaper, and that's not how it is everywhere.”
As thousands trickled into Gaithersburg's five polling places to ca
st their ballots Tuesday, 50 paid workers were on duty election.
Although retired seniors still traditionally give up their free time to organize the election-day process, workers in Gaithersburg this year represented the faces of any ever-changing city.
Many were minorities, some were immigrants and several were young professionals, a slight, but still significant change from even five decades ago, when the population was overwhelmingly white, and Gaithersburg was still considered a growing agricultural town.
In her first year working the election, Nancy Munoz-Azarmanesh, who is on the board of the Western Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, presided as election judge at City Hall.
She was looking to get more involved in a city she, and many other Hispanics, have called home for years, she said.
Although Latinos are the city's largest minority group at 20 percent, Munoz-Azarmanesh shook her head when asked whether many showed up to cast a ballot.
‘‘Not too many,” she said.
a 25-year-old accountant, also said she was disappointed at how few young people voted by Tuesday morning. This was the second election she has worked.
‘‘You always think, ‘Does it matter that I vote?,' ‘Does my voice count?'” she said. ‘‘You want young people to speak for what they want, too.”
Some workers said they hope others like them will follow in their footsteps to get more involved in Gaithersburg.
‘‘I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to pick my leaders,” Nau said. ‘‘When I vote, I feel I accomplished something valuable. Everybody should know how that feels.”
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