At some point, during the long slog to the midterms, a group of rural election officials put out a plea to the neighbors who were harassing and threatening them.

"We go to church with you all. Our kids go to school with your kids. … We're related to half of you," recalled Jennifer Morrell, a partner with The Elections Group, which offers support and resources to election administrators across the nation. "Please know that you can trust the work that we're doing."

In Minnesota, as always, the election workers did their work well.

Running an election is hard, thankless work. The hours are long. The angry caller on line 2 just watched a bunch of conspiracy videos on YouTube. You're probably going to have to coax all your friends and relations to volunteer as poll workers again.

Morrell serves on the faculty at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School, where the next generation of election administrators can earn their certification. Assuming we can persuade another generation to put up with all the threats and insults and election deniers.

Across the country, as sore losers blamed their 2020 losses on everyone but themselves, election workers started walking away from the job.

"That's been an unfortunate side effect of the lies and disinformation from 2020," Morrell said. "We've seen veteran, seasoned election professionals leave in droves. There are some states where more than two-thirds of their veteran election administrators have left. That's scary."

Yes, you can study and learn and become a certified election administrator at the Humphrey School at the University of Minnesota. But running an election is something you really have to learn on the job — preferably with the help of other seasoned election wranglers.

These are the people who have to figure out where we'll vote, hire and train the poll workers who help us vote, and safeguard and tally all those ballots.

"It's harder than it sounds," Morell deadpanned.

Running an election used to be like patching potholes or maintaining municipal sewage treatment plants. Vital, important and mostly taken for granted — unless something went wrong or a U.S. Senate race needed an eight-month recount.

Until 2016, when the guy running for president started claiming the election was stolen even after he won.

It's the day after the 2022 midterms and most of the election workers who made it possible are either asleep or still at work. They won't hear us say thank you. But thank you.

"These folks that are still here have a ton of fortitude and resiliency, after what they've gone through in the last four years," Morrell said. "The threats, the massive onslaught of open-records requests, the fact that they're still here speaks volumes about their character and their fortitude."

Local election offices had to allocate or increase resources for voter outreach. Sometimes, to pass along important information: Hello, you're registered to vote, here is your polling place. More often, to correct disinformation: Hello, Dominion voting machines did not steal the 2020 election in Minnesota. Only six counties used those machines and Donald Trump carried five of them.

The good news for Minnesota — despite the fact that the midterm ballot featured no less than six election deniers running for statewide office or a seat in Congress — is that nobody is better at elections than Minnesota. This state's voter turnout and election integrity are the marvel of the nation.

"Elections happen because of the hundreds and thousands of your neighbors in Minnesota who are also participating," Morrell said.

Poll workers, canvassing board members, the people who participate in the audit, the ones who show up to witness as the machines are tested. Elections wouldn't work without all of them.

"There's a strong belief in democracy and in this country" among people who work elections, Morrell said. "The sentiment I've heard is, 'We feel like we're serving our community.' We believe in our community, we believe in our state, we believe in this country. For many of them, it really is an act of service."

It was hard, it was thankless, and we're going to have to do it all again in 2024. But your neighbors — the people sitting next to you in church, the parents who send their kids to school with your kids — made sure every vote for every election denier on the ballot was counted.

You can trust the work that they're doing.