I have been photographing polling places and voters since 2004, (the year Bush defeated Kerry). That year, Esquire magazine hired me to photograph polling places and voters for a feature on the election. I loved the pictures and was forever changed by the experience of meeting and talking to the poll workers whom, I had never really spoken to, I must confess, other than to give them my name and address. I have photographed most of the elections since in New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
It hit me the first time I photographed polling stations that this is what an American democracy looks like: a clerical exercise of shuffling papers and bean counting–not overturned cars in the street or mobs throwing Molotov cocktails. The tallying of 121,745,725 votes cast in the days after Nov 6, 2012, comes down to the service of ordinary citizens who take an oath not to interfere with the process and are paid less than $200 for the day.
Meanwhile, from the voter’s perspective, regardless of what we think about our options for who we can elect or whether we believe any great change will take place, we have either retained or overthrown our government by casting one vote. The evolution of our voting laws has been a long 200 year process to finally include everyone (except convicted felons and minors). My pictures are a window into what that process looks like up close.