Crisis spawns, or reveals, heroes among us.

Hard-working, diligent, dedicated and courageous Americans always rise to the challenge, whether it’s during a war, an economic recession, a natural disaster or a public health emergency.

This week, the country has faced a different sort of crisis — arguably the most contentious presidential election in our history.

Following months of a caustic campaign set against the bleak backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, Americans regarded Election Day with anxiety. But we also had hope, hope that the election, once it was over, would bring clarity of direction and the promise of national unity.

And, as always in times of crisis, our resilience and determination have shone through, even as we dread imminent court battles over the election.

Meet the heroes of November 2020:

Voters: While exercising caution to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Americans shook off the apathy that often hinders democratic participation. Millions of voters learned to cast ballots by mail for the first time. Millions more voted early in person or proudly stepped to the voting machine on Election Day.

A slew of states smashed records for mail-in voting, and many set new standards for overall voter turnout.

Poll workers: The polls in Indiana are open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Many poll workers arrive early and stay late, assuring that all who show up on time get the opportunity to vote, no matter how dark it gets outside.

This year, poll workers had an extra level of concern about potential disruptions at voting sites.

Ballot counters: Just look at the photos and watch the videos of these folks at work. It’s a tedious job, counting mail-in ballots. There’s no glory in it, other than the deep satisfaction of being part of history by working side-by-side with people from both political parties to make sure the process is fair and accurate.

Election officials: County clerks, election boards and other local officials put in countless hours of planning and testing to assure that the voting machines work and the process is smooth and nonpartisan during mail-in, early voting and Election Day phases.

The toxic political atmosphere, along with grave concerns about the pandemic, placed extraordinary pressure on election officials this year.

Judges: With the Trump campaign pushing litigation in several states to limit voting, stop counting or overturn results, state and federal courts are the last line of defense against election fraud. Americans can trust that judges will ultimately issue fair rulings based on law, not political pressure.

From the beginning of the election process through the end, these heroes have emerged in small towns and large cities and all across the U.S. countryside.

Americans have proved again that no crisis is too daunting for our collective will.

Herald-Bulletin (Anderson)

- Herald-Bulletin (Anderson)

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