‘Insurrectionists climbed the Capitol:’ Brian Rose and the Board of Elections

Over the 2022 holiday break, the BC Law Impact blog is running a series of some of the most powerful and fascinating admissions essays from first-year students. These personal statements, submitted as part of their admissions applications, tell a variety of compelling stories, but the thread connecting them all is the kind of person who is attracted to a BC Law education: one who is driven to work collaboratively with others, achieve great things and make a real difference in the world.

We want to thank the Office of Admissions, and all of the student essay writers, for agreeing to share their stories with us. For more Admissions tips and other content, check out BC Law’s new TikTok channel.

On January 6th, 2021, insurrectionists climbed the Capitol façade, broke down its doors, and overwhelmed its security, all to overturn an election they felt had been rigged. Those insurrectionists were attempting to directly undermine my work. I have spent the past three years working for the Board of Elections in the City of New York, and I helped supervise one of the largest post-election ballot-counting canvass operations in the United States at Citi Field in Queens County, New York. I knew and could explain why the election was not rigged. I had accounted for every ballot we had to count and knew every detail of our processes. Yet, there I sat, as thousands of Americans attacked the core of our democracy. It was demoralizing. A process that has survived for over 200 years had nearly succumbed to an angry mob, instigated by a former president who had an iron grip around the minds of his supporters.

The work that preceded that day was onerous, but unquestionably important. Beginning shortly after the election on November 3rd, 2020, I organized the logistical efforts of our canvass operation. I was responsible for the chain-of-custody of 200,000 ballots, hundreds of thousands of dollars of election equipment, and for the credentialing of hundreds of election administrators, campaign staff, and media observers. Layered on top of this were all the various logistical challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic had led to an unprecedented number of absentee ballots, more than what both the current election law and our budget were suited to handle. I worked tirelessly to ensure every element of our operation worked efficiently despite the less-than-ideal circumstances. I walked campaigns and candidates, many of whom felt similarly about the legitimacy of our elections as our former president did, through the intricacies of the process, creating a wholly transparent experience. In the bowels of a baseball stadium, in the middle of a pandemic, we led our staff through the most difficult and tedious process any of us had ever undertaken — all to elect a new President of the United States.

In the time between the completion of my work in counting the ballots for the 2020 General Election and January 6th, the same misinformation that surrounded my professional life followed me into my personal life. I sat at the Thanksgiving dinner table, as my brother and uncle ran through the supposed litany of ways they knew the election was rigged, completely aware of the fact that their respective brother and nephew had been intimately involved in that very process. It felt endless; the misinformation reached a fever pitch and culminated in the events of January 6th.

It is important to frame these conversations within the larger context of my family, and my hometown. I grew up in a county that has voted Republican in every presidential election since 1964. Still, Pike County, and my town, Paupack, always felt relatively accepting of all political creeds. The microcosm of that acceptance was my father, the town’s magistrate, who in hindsight, feels like the last bastion of sanity and compassionate objectivity. Since his passing, the rise of nationalism and Trumpism has made my hometown hyper-politicized, and its people angry and distrustful of their neighbors. In a sense, what happened on January 6th wasn’t all that surprising, as I am sure my hometown and my Thanksgiving dinner table are emblematic of the thousands of other small towns and tables that dot rural America. My father, ever objective, would have been appalled at the state of our country and our politics.

The juxtaposition between my work, my family, my hometown, and the events of January 6th felt like the tipping point in my professional development and sparked my desire to pursue a law degree. Further, it is my father’s idea of compassion and objectivity that both helped me navigate the events surrounding last year’s election and the qualities I want to embody as a law student and as a lawyer. I have dedicated my career thus far to public service, and I am proud of the work I have done, but to risk complacency in a world that feels as fragile as ever is wasteful. The combination of working under immense social and political pressure, and the wrangling with the misinformation and falsehoods that have defined the past year of my life has uniquely prepared me to contribute to Boston College Law School and society at large. For better or worse, I have been in a position in which my character and career were questioned, criticized, and outright dismissed as fraudulent. I came out of that focused on making myself, and the world around me, better. Pursuing a law degree is the absolute best way to accomplish this. Boston College Law School is particularly appealing because of the collaborative environment it boasts, coupled with the low faculty to student ratio, both of which helped me thrive in my undergraduate studies. Given my experiences and my skill set, I would be a strong addition to the Boston College Law School community as I pursue my Juris Doctor.

Brian Rose is a first-year student at BC Law.

Featured image TapTheForwardAssist, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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