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The rising pressure on poll workers
May 1, 2024
Episode 1151

The rising pressure on poll workers

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Plus, a reminder to leave election officials alone.

With the presidential election less than six months away, election workers are raising concerns about their safety. We’ll get into the rising threats to election offices and how that might affect staffing ahead of November. Also, how Tesla’s disbanding of its Supercharger team could impact the Biden’s administration push to expand electric vehicle use. Plus, how a pest control professional saved a baseball game from a swarm of bees.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

We love to hear from you. Send your questions and comments to makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a voicemail at 508-U-B-SMART.

Make Me Smart May 1, 2024 Transcript

Note: Marketplace podcasts are meant to be heard, with emphasis, tone and audio elements a transcript can’t capture. Transcripts are generated using a combination of automated software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting it.

Kai Ryssdal 

All right, Drew. Let’s go. We got to things to do. Places to go.

Kimberly Adams 

Look at you with your Bye Bye Birdie reference. Hello everyone, I’m Kimberly Adams. Welcome back to Make Me Smart, where we make today make sense.

 

Kai Ryssdal 

I’ve told you I was in Bye Bye Birdie. What was the name of the character? Albert J. Peterson, right?

Kimberly Adams 

Wait, you weren’t Conrad Birdie?

Kai Ryssdal 

I was not Conrad Birdie.

Kimberly Adams

I see you way more as Conrad Birdie.

Kai Ryssdal

Yeah. Well, I was not as cool as I am now when I was in seventh grade. No, what was really interesting about was that our music teacher, Dolores Coach. She got the school bad boy to be, Ricky was his name, got him to be Conrad Birdie. And it was this huge, big deal on that.

Kimberly Adams

Oh, I bet he owned that role.

Kai Ryssdal

Yeah. Oh, it was big deal. It was a very big deal. And of course, it was great. It was fun. Anyway. So enough about me. I’m Kai Ryssdal. Thanks for joining us this Wednesday, May the 1st. Some news and some smiles, which I have none because the news kind of stinks. Let’s get to it.

Kimberly Adams 

Right. So. Well, since the news does stink. I don’t know. The weed story is a huge story, but I feel like we should probably do a deep dive on that at some point. But the story that I actually chose today is in the Huffington Post via the Brennan Center for Justice, which is about election officials. And there is a new study out showing that nearly two-thirds of election officials are worried that politicians will interfere with their work. Also that nearly half of election workers are concerned that their incoming colleagues might themselves believe lies about widespread voter fraud. There are a bunch of numbers about how many people have left the field, and 16% folks say that they’ve been threatened over the phone, some in person. 70% feel that the level of threats is increased since 2020. Look, I don’t think it needs to be said, but leave the election officials alone, trying to do their jobs. But also, you know, worry about who’s going to want to do these jobs. There was a story in Roll Call the other day as well, which we can link in the show notes about how the people who worked on the January 6 investigation like the hearings, like the staffers, the lawyers who were doing the interviews how they have faced so many threats, and they were doxed, and they were targeted. And they’ve been talked about on these really scary channels, and how a lot of them have to have security now, or pay for, you know, services to help them avoid the doxing. And how a lot of them are still walking around worried because of that experience. And the political climate we are in makes it so hard, I think for people to step up and engage in public service. And so, I just think that when we do see people who are willing to do it, it’s just like hats off to you, especially in this climate, because it’s not easy. It’s not easy.

Kai Ryssdal 

No, totally. And it’s not just, excuse me, it’s not just the civil servants. This is in Romney’s book. And I think Liz Cheney has said it as well that no small number of Republicans, specifically in the House of Representatives are skittish about voicing their opposition to Donald Trump because they fear for their safety or the safety of their families. And the normalization of political violence is a direct legacy, I think of the Trump years, and it is deeply destructive of democracy. You know, it’s just how can you serve, expect people to serve, want to serve when physical violence is threatened? And that’s yeah.

Kimberly Adams 

Well, and not just physical violence, but I mean, whatever you want to think about the Trump case in Georgia, they embarked on a case of professional and personal destruction against firewalls. And it sets a precedent there. You can’t tell me that other legal professionals, district attorneys, and other folks did not watch that and don’t have that in their minds, as they think about whether or not they want to, you know, rattle that hornet’s nest or whatever.

Kai Ryssdal 

Yeah, totally, totally agree.

Kimberly Adams 

All right, what’s your news?

Kai Ryssdal 

Alright, so this is a little bit yesterday, but it is kind of a big deal. And you know, full disclosure, I’m kind of vested in this because I’m an EV driver. But this move by Tesla yesterday to basically shut down its supercharger development division. And the superchargers are, of course, those charging stations on the road that EV drivers have, of which again, I am one but more of us will be becoming EV drivers, as we try to decarbonize this planet. Musk has basically shut it down. He’s laid off 500 people. He says he’s going to focus his attention on the existing stations and increasing their uptime, that is to say the time they’re in service because that can be a challenge depending on where you are. Although Tesla superchargers do have good records. But the reason this is a much bigger deal other than just Tesla is that the White House, which as we know has a green agenda and is trying to get everybody to move to EVs has been counting on the expansion of Tesla’s supercharger network to help drive EV adoption. Other carmakers, General Motors, Hyundai, others. Ford, I think as well, have made deals with Tesla to use their superchargers, which is you know, Tesla gets paid for it, and its money in their pockets. Those car makers now are a little bit adrift because there are going to be fewer of them, and that poses a bigger challenge to getting everybody to adopt EVs. So, it’s beyond just Tesla. It’s sort of a systemic electrification of driving problem that is not great if we want to decarbonize this planet. It’s not great at all.

Kimberly Adams 

And this is why we have the Make Me Smile segment.

Kai Ryssdal

Yeah, that’s right. All right.

Kimberly Adams 

This genuinely did put the biggest smile on my face when I saw it this morning. So, there was a baseball game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix, and this was, when was this game? I think it was yesterday. I don’t know. Anyway, the story was in UPI today. The game was delayed because a bee swarm settled behind home plate. And so, let me just read this. Let’s see. “A pest control professional cleared a bee swarm of thousands while fans roared and later earned the nod for ceremonial first pitch before a delayed Los Angeles Dodgers-Arizona Diamondbacks matchup in Phoenix. The insect invasion occurred Tuesday,” yes, yesterday “at Chase Field. It caused a two-hour delay before the Diamondbacks beat the Dodgers 4-3. Bees began to surround their queen in the cluster about 15 minutes before the game was set to begin. Umpire then met managers from both teams and the Diamondbacks vice president of operations Mike Rock and opted to call in Matt Hilton to assess the situation.” And so, this guy is from Blue Sky Pest Control, which got so much good press for this. And apparently, he was at his son’s tee ball game when he got the call. And he comes onto the field. They’ve got him on this cart and the crowd just explodes. And you can see him just sort of being like, oh, wow.

Kai Ryssdal

That’s awesome.

Kimberly Adams

And he goes up there in his beekeeper outfit and you know, gets the bees down. And it was just very sweet. He got like a hero’s welcome because the game was able to happen because of him, and it was really nice. And he was like hamming it up, bowing to the crowd and stuff. It was great.

Kai Ryssdal 

I think actually in the story I read, they let him throw out the first pitch too.

Kimberly Adams 

Yes, they did. They did, and it was it was a little wide, but I certainly wouldn’t have done better. Especially after you know, removing thousands and thousands of bees. The crowd apparently chanted MVP for the pest control ace.

Kai Ryssdal 

Perfect, loving it. Loving it.

Kimberly Adams 

It made me smile. There’s great video of this in the UPI story that we will link, and it genuinely made me smile. He looks so happy.

Kai Ryssdal

Perfect.

Kimberly Adams

Oh, wait. One more thing.

Kai Ryssdal

Yes.

Kimberly Adams

The Beatles’ “Let it Be” and Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out for a Hero” played through the stadium speakers during the sequences he was doing.

Kai Ryssdal 

Oh my god. Oh my god.

Kimberly Adams 

Oh, okay. That did make me smile. Still is making me smile. Anyway, that’s it for today. We’re going to be back tomorrow. Until then, send your thoughts, questions, comments, smiles because usually we need them, or any audio you think we should talk about to makemesmart@marketplace.org. You could also leave us a voicemail at 508-U-B-SMART.

Kai Ryssdal 

Make Me Smart is produced by Courtney Bergsieker. Ellen Rolfes writes our newsletter. Today’s program was engineered by, sorry just checking. Yes, Drew Jostad. Thalia Menchaca is our intern.

Kimberly Adams 

Ben Tolliday and Daniel Ramirez composed our theme music. Our senior producer is Marissa Cabrera. Bridget Bodnar is the director of podcasts. And Francesca Levy is the executive director of Digital.

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