In this difficult year, elections workers preserved our democracy.

The coronavirus pandemic added hazard to the most fundamental citizen duty, the act of casting a vote.

Nationwide, about 100 million Americans decided to vote early or by absentee to reduce crowds and risks on the traditional election day. Then, on Nov. 3, tens of millions more stood in long lines to exercise their voting rights.

All of that created enormous challenges for those whose responsibility it is to plan and conduct elections. It’s always a lot of work, but this year there was the added burden of doing everything possible to make sure Americans could vote safely.

Even in these contentious times, it’s our hope Americans of all political persuasions can pause hostilities long enough to acknowledge the extraordinary and courageous work of all those who made democratic elections possible despite the challenges.

Here in Beloit, we specifically recognize City Clerk Lori Stottler for her steady hand and strong leadership.

At the Rock County Courthouse, we recognize Rock County Clerk Lisa Tollefson for the same level of competence and commitment.

Add to that list a legion of government officials across cities and towns, and the hundreds of people who signed up as poll workers to do their part for democracy.

We would be remiss if we failed to mention the support network needed in this extraordinary year, the people who added their efforts to monitor and assure safe practices at the polls.

These are not the folks who dig in and engage in partisan warfare. They are the men and women who make the system work so government of the people remains the standard in our great country.

They’re not doing it for accolades. They toil in anonymity. They’re doing it because it’s right.

Thank you.