Have you ever
wondered about the people who give you your ballots on Election
Day? Have you ever wondered how old they actually are? Most likely
its been the same people sitting behind that table since
you were a youngster and you trailed behind your parents when
they went to vote. They greet you, ask you for your name address
and, photo ID before handing you a ballot or directing you to
a voting machine. More than just glorified receptionists, these
underpaid few are really the gatekeepers to democracy.
We are at
a critical time in the election system because the Greatest Generation
is starting to retire from working the polls. Really, they have
more than surpassed their duty in serving our community, state
and Nation. Many of them are passing 80+ years of life, and are
beginning to run out of steam. Rogers County lost over 45 workers
in the last 2 years. They all surpassed the age of 80. They did
their time. Those who are currently working elections are starting
to feel the arduous effects of the long hours required. Currently,
the average age of our 152 workers is 74.
and judges, as well as clerks, are critical administrators in
the voting process. They arrive long before the polls open at
7 a.m. on Election Day. Their responsibilities include: setting
up the precinct voting site; activating the voting machines after
unloading them from storage carts and connecting cables and electrical
cords; troubleshooting inoperable machines; checking voters to
make sure they're registered; and ensuring that ballots are securely
delivered to the County Election Board at the end of the evening.
They get paid less than minimum wage, and their responsibility
is of great importance.
poll workers need to be computer savvy to use sophisticated technical
equipment. In the last 10-20 years federal and state laws have
created a slew of new procedures for voting. Those who claim to
be registered but cannot be found on the voter rolls must be directed
to the correct precinct or given provisional ballots. These procedures,
coupled with the advent of electronic voting machines, leave little
room for error. On most jobs, first day mistakes are common; if
you make a mistake the first day, you can correct it the next
day. With this job, you don't get a second day; a lofty expectation
of perfection for poll workers.
Being a poll
worker is an underappreciated job, but they provide a service
to the public that is paramount. Poll workers are a critical piece
of how our Constitutional Republic functions and we need people
to keep our elections viable. The security and integrity of our
elections depend on poll workers who serve 13 hours or more for
little pay, and sometimes in intense and complex situations. Without
competent workers, the process can end up with long lines, mass
confusion, miscounted ballots, recounts, or worst case scenarios,
having an entire election thrown out.
in order to overcome our current situation; we need to offer a
wage to fit the responsibility. I encourage you to talk to your
legislators and let them know how important our poll workers are
to the integrity of our election system, and they need a raise
to fit the responsibility of the position in which they serve.