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Serving as an Election Judge

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Serving as an Election Judge

Sofi Zeman, Editor-In-Chief

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      It is five in the morning. You’ve beat the sunrise by a considerable amount of time. The drive over to your designated precinct is brief and accompanied by a much needed cup of coffee. You are tired. So very, very tired. But, there is work do be done – and a lot of it, too. This is election judging.

      When voters come in on election day, their two primary concerns are casting a vote and getting a sticker before the lines get too long or polls close. In the midst of all of the given chaos that comes during any election season, many fail to acknowledge the people that help them to achieve these goals. These are the election judges. On voting days, small groups of four to six people are assigned to a designated voting place, or precinct, in order to ensure that the voting process runs smoothly. From five in the morning to as late as eight-thirty in the evening, these people perform the set up and take down of voting booths, ballot counting machines, check-in stations, voting machines…the list goes on. Nearly every voting-related item that you see in a precinct was put there by an election judge.  From the moment that the polls open to the second they close, these groups of people verify voter information, distribute ballots and ensure that each voter is able to place a fair, honest and legal ballot.

      Anyone can be an election judge. It’s a paid position that averages between nine and ten dollars an hour. Unfortunately, it is not a job that can be made into a career because it is typically performed only every few years. Prior to becoming an election judge, it is highly suggested to take the three hour course provided by the County Clerk Office. It is at this seminar that the judges in training learn how to not only perform their jobs on election day, but how to handle difficult or complicated situations that may come up during the voting process.

      In my time at the Boone County Journal, I’ve come to gain a heavy interest in local government. With an election as major as this year’s coming around, I wanted to be sure that I somehow got involved on November 6. As a seventeen year old, I knew that I would not be able to vote this year. Instead, I decided that I wanted to learn how the entire process works. So, I took the class and became an election judge. I was assigned to precinct 19, the Keen Age Center. It was here that I spent the next fifteen hours of my day, distributing ballots and getting to know my fellow judges, as well as some of the voters. I particularly enjoyed being a part of many first time voter experiences.

      One initial catch that came with being a judge was the fact that we were not allowed to leave the building for the entire day. Upon learning this news, I looked down at the single bag of tortilla chips that I had brought for a snack and feared that my rations would not last throughout the course of the day. Luckily, the women in my precinct and some of the people in the one right next to us brought a variety of snacks to fuel the lot of us. We were even given a few free pizzas from Pizza Hut as well. In fact, I ate better in my day as an election judge than I ever do on any other Tuesday at school.

      To be blunt,  election judging isn’t a particularly easy job. It is a very long and busy day. Anyone that decides to do it will surely be very tired both before and after it all. But, it is entirely worth it. It’s exciting to be a part of something great. Many peoples’ lives were changed on Tuesday night. In a single day, I was able to interact with hundreds of very kind people, eat some very delicious chili and be a part of something amazing. At the precinct I was working at, and at the one next to us as well, over sixty percent of the voters registered to each of the two precincts casted a vote on November 6. Due to the amount of non response and nonvoting in past years, this is a very high number, maybe even record breaking for that site. I am so thankful to have been able to aid nearly 400 in exercising their right to vote.

 

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Serving as an Election Judge