The thermometer reads 53 degrees and the rain is coming down in unruly, stinging sheets. The solemn solitary man operating the front door to St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church is only distinguishable from the wet limestone by the collar of his plaid red shirt peeking over his brown overcoat and the plume of white smoke rising from the pipe in his hand.
Ed Ipser keeps finding himself mistaken for a doorman.
“I’m a volunteer, you know, but also an alternate election judge,” Ipser says with a laugh. “I’ve been doing this for 20 years, though — I never miss an election.”
Ipser greets everyone coming in from the cold with a warm handshake and a welcoming smile. Many are friends and children of Ipser’s friends. Many he knows by name. He points out one man with white hair and a khaki newsboy cap on his way out: “That gentleman,” he says loudly enough for the man to overhear, “Has never once missed an election I’ve volunteered at.” The two then pat each other on the back in a show of camaraderie.
Ipser says he enjoys watching everyone come out to vote, but is also quick to point out how critical voting, itself, is.
“Like my own position, I feel voting is one’s civic responsibility in one sense. I think, especially in this area, people feel obligated to exercise their rights, and they should.”
Ipser said regardless of which party someone is affiliated with or feels strongly about, it is important to have a large number of voters to make the decision.
The document taped to the church’s door stated that by 3:30 p.m., 439 voters had visited St. Stephen’s. Ipser said he was very pleased at the day’s turnout, especially considering that there was still plenty of time for people to come. He said all the volunteers took a guess as to how many would show up and he was happy to announce they’d estimated in the low 400s; they were sure to exceed that number now.
“We’ve had a steady flow all day. Even with the weather being what it is, people are still coming,” Ipser said.
Ipser said being in a good precinct is paramount to having a high number of voters. He said because of the university environment and the general area, he feels there is a higher education level and sophistication about the people who voting.
When asked how he felt being relegated to doorman, Ipser was quick to respond: “I just came out here to smoke my pipe! But I also like seeing the people with their jackets and umbrellas still walking up.”
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