On Being An Election Official
Several years ago I has an opportunity to serve as an election official in an actual election. Encouraged by the Jefferson Area Tea Party, I volunteered to work as an election official.
I was accepted and began my trip through the electoral system of Virginia. I’m sure that the state where you live has similar rules and procedures in place to conduct a fair and honest election.
That’s all that voters want, fair and honest. Of course, they want their candidate to come out on top but in the end, they’ll settle for fair and honest. Multiple voting or dead people voting are discouraged and looked down on by the vast majority of American voters.
If Americans had been able to witness the extreme lengths that we, as election officials, went to in order to assure a fair and honest election, very few would say that it was rigged. There is a minority belief that the voting machines are already pre-programmed to produce a predictable result.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. The first thing that we did was take an oath to conduct a fair and honest election. Raising your hand and swearing and signing that oath makes you realize the importance of your role in the process.
Before the machines are activated, each of them prints out a tape that indicates that each candidate has no votes. This is signed by two election officials. In the event that you’re going to say that they could be in cahoots, their signatures are overseen by other election officials. In fact, most sensitive actions are witnessed by multiple election officials.
Election officials are assigned to different precincts based on political considerations. For every self-identified Democrat there is an self-identified Republican. The goal in a national or state election is to have a balanced team of election officials for each precinct. This is a way to avoid the appearance of favoritism for one party or the other.
Even with the partisan divide, we knew that we were there to provide a fair and non-threatening environment for the voters. As this was a primary, there were no poll watchers observing our every move. In the upcoming November election, we will be required to announce each voter loud enough for the poll watchers to hear. This enables them to keep up with who voted and who did not. Their goal is to garner every available vo9te for their candidate.
After 13 hours of sitting and standing, we closed up our precinct with only 2% of the registered voters casting ballots, a disappointment to say the least. In the end the favorite won the primary but that wasn’t the point. Virginia Republican voters were afforded the opportunity to express their opinion. But we weren’t done yet.
For another hour we tabulated the votes from each machine with multiple printed tapes and a portable hard drive from each machine. Each of the election officials were required to sign the three copies from each machine. We sealed each machine with a metal band and locked them up. Then, we packed up everything in eight different envelopes.
Each operation required a signed seal and was witnessed by other election officials. The unofficial canvas was called into the county building and we finally packed everything in the chief election official’s car for later drop-off.
One word about missing or discovered ballots. When you hear that, you that something is fishy. With all of the checks and double checks it would not be possible in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Voting is the most important act an American can perform. Yet, only 2% of the voters in our precinct and less than 5% state-wide availed themselves of the opportunity. Let’s hope that we see a better turnout in November.