County clerk: poll workers make elections possible
by Steve Kadel
staff writer
Nov 15, 2012 | 830 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Poll workers Lita Welch, left, and Roberta Knutson check Mary McGann’s name in a list of registered voters during the final day of general election early voting Friday, Nov. 2 at Grand County Courthouse. Photo by Steve Kadel
Poll workers Lita Welch, left, and Roberta Knutson check Mary McGann’s name in a list of registered voters during the final day of general election early voting Friday, Nov. 2 at Grand County Courthouse. Photo by Steve Kadel
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Some unsung heroes worked long hours Tuesday, Nov. 6, so Grand County voters could cast their ballots for local, state and federal candidates in the 2012 general election.

Forty poll workers staffed nine precincts throughout the county, starting at 6:15 a.m. and ending after 8 p.m. Even after the polls closed at 8 p.m., workers stayed on duty until all voters’ signatures were matched with the number of ballots, said Grand County Clerk Diana Carroll.

Two Grand County High School students were among those who volunteered for the task. James Martin was at Precinct 2 and Aaron Lewis was at Precinct 3.

“I think it’s important to get involved,” said Martin, who applied for the poll position through his government class.

In addition, 17-year-old Donna Snow of GCHS helped by volunteering in the county clerk’s office prior to the election. She also organized a mock election for students and staff at the high school.

Poll workers must be 18 years old and be registered voters in the county. Each precinct has a poll manager who earns $180 for the day while other workers receive $100. The county also provides each volunteer with three meals.

Carroll added that training sessions are required before each election, too. Volunteers receive $25 for the time spent training.

This year, Carroll said she sought poll workers who were available for both the primary election and the general election. That added difficulty to the already tough job of finding willing participants, she said.

Carroll said many of those who worked the polls during last week’s election were “seasoned poll workers.” She added that it is a particularly long day for elderly volunteers, some of whom are age 70 or older.

A few years ago, Carroll had to publish advertisements seeking election help, and the effort brought in a few candidates, she said.

“People have jobs,” she said, explaining why it is often difficult to find volunteers.

Poll workers make sure voters show proper identification and that they haven’t already voted in the current election. They encode the ballots so the voting machines register each vote. They record voters’ names and collect voting cards when each person is finished marking his or her ballot.

They also hand out “I voted today” stickers, which Carroll joked “is the most important part of all.”

The law prevents political campaigning within 150 feet of a precinct. Carroll said there have been a few times when voters drove cars bearing candidate signs and parked near the polling place.

“That’s OK if they’re just stopping to vote, but if they are parking there for a long time we ask them to move on down the street,” she said.

A 10-day period of early voting at Grand County Courthouse ended Friday, Nov. 2. Poll workers served from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. on those days.

“It’s going smoothly and it has been busy,” Carroll said Nov. 2 just before early voting wrapped up.

She gave special thanks to the Nov. 6 poll workers for what is inevitably a 16-hour workday.

“We have a good staff and the poll workers enhance that,” Carroll said. “It’s a thankless job. We are appreciative of the job they do. We couldn’t run elections without them.”

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