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Consider the Fold

May 20, 2022

An absentee voter completing their ballot and folding it.

 

Have you ever considered the fold?

Consider the ballot folded by the absentee voter. Fingers press careful creases on the ballot to seal their contribution to democracy. Each shaded oval represents the choices and a vote cast for their cause. The integrity of this ballot and the process to tabulate it discreetly and accurately means everything to the voter.

Sometime later, that same ballot is unfolded by an election worker at the ballot preparation station. The ballot is received and scanned by the tabulator to record the voter’s choices. The integrity of this ballot means everything to the election worker.

As each Election Director knows, timing and the integrity of the vote are everything on Election Day. Absentee ballots need to be turned in, and voting locations must open on time. Those envelopes containing absentee ballots can only be opened after a certain time. Voters don’t want to spend too much time waiting to vote. The goal is to run a smooth election and then report results before the evening news to announce the winners above the fold in the newspaper. Or above the fold on websites. Or at the top of the broadcast on the news.

If you’re not familiar with the term, “above the fold” means text that appears above the folded crease of a newspaper or before the reader must scroll on a website. The most newsworthy stories appear above the fold.

Election Directors take comfort in knowing they turned in the election results with the highest percent of completeness and trusted integrity before the next news cycle so the vote tallies can be reported above the fold and above reproach.

Fair, secure and accurate elections are the backbone of our democracy. Those values are what countless election workers sacrifice their precious time to protect. It’s why they spend long days and nights away from their loved ones.

 

Image sequence of U.S. Army Honor Guard members folding an American flag for presenting to a soldier's next of kin.

 

For this Military Appreciation Month — and every day — we also consider the fold symbolizing the sacrifices of Armed Forces members and their families.

When skimming the news above the fold, we find stories about military units departing to or returning from deployments — or covering a National Guard troop that provided support after a flood, wildfires and other natural disasters. It’s also common to find news stories about soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Those stories leave us with another fold to consider. The last fold in a soldier’s journey home — an American Burial Flag meticulously, ceremoniously folded and then presented to the next of kin during a Military Honors Service.

Any veteran who has served honorably with the Armed Forces has the option to have an honor guard detail for their burial. No less than two members of the Armed Forces will be present. Some military honors services include additional elements such as a rifle team or a colors team. One Honor Guard member will present a folded United States Burial Flag to the next of kin, and Taps will be played.

Witnessing Honor Guard members crease the flag in unison until one turns to the next of kin, bends a reverent knee and then presents the folded flag is a poignant scene. Observing the folded flag floods our minds with memories and gratitude for that soldier and a dose of sadness for a life lost.

At ES&S, we are honored to employ several military personnel and family members of military personnel. We respect their sacrifices to protect the country where we provide voting equipment to more than 94 million registered voters. When we design and support our equipment, we consider the voter behind each folded ballot, the election worker who unfolds and scans it, the solder voting overseas, and so many more scenarios provided by our democracy.

 


 

Editor’s Note:

Our guest author, ES&S Proposal Manager Lindsay Lange, is not only the wife of an Honor Guard member, she has witnessed several flag folding ceremonies — her husband has performed more than 500 Honor Guard services during his Army National Guard career. Before joining ES&S, Lindsay spent several years writing for newspapers, magazines and websites, and her first official job was delivering newspapers. During her journalism days, her greatest goal was to write a story printed above the fold.