Written by Seneca County Public Relations Coordinator Jimmy Flint
It was November 5th last year and with my 5 a.m. alarm clock, I awoke with excitement and anxiety for the long and important day ahead.
My name is Jimmy Flint and I am the Public Relations Coordinator for the Seneca County Board of Commissioners. Due to a policy change in the county and a need for more election workers, I was able to work the election for the first time in 2019.
In this article, I’m going to tell you about my experience as a poll worker! It was a long day, but it was easy, fun and something that I won’t hesitate to do again.
The most important part of having a successful day came before the election even began. In the previous month, I attended a comprehensive training program at the Seneca County Board of Elections office. This training included some hands-on experience with the new voting machines and electronic poll books.
The poll books were purchased in 2017 and the voting machines were bought last year, so although I was new, I still learned alongside even some of the most experienced election workers.
I never worked with the older equipment, but it seems like the newer technology has streamlined the process! The new machines make the process easier for the voter, the election workers and the board of elections staff.
When you first look at the machine, you might be intimidated by the new technology, but once you vote the first time, you’ll find it is as easy as paying with a credit card at the grocery store.
After the training course and during the week of the election, I had to pick up all of the equipment that I needed and my key to the voting location. All of this preparation had me ready to go when the day came.
I arrived at the voting location more than an hour before the polls opened at 6:30, to make sure everything was prepared and ready to go!
I served as a voting location manager and was happy and excited to see my three co-workers arrive shortly after me. Even though our training course was informative, it was still nice to have three others there to help me set up the machines and organize the room. If there was something one of us forgot from the training, one of the others was ready to step in and help.
By 6:15 we were ready for the public to come in and exercise their right to vote! The day went off without too many issues, but when we did have a problem, the staff and leadership at the board of elections office were just one call away. We did have to call them a couple of times, but they were always prepared for us and ready for a quick solution.
I can’t say enough about the three people who were with me at my polling location, because even though we had never worked together before the day began, we worked well together as a team and learned more about each other through great conversation during slow times. Each of us brought in some food and took turns taking a break so we could rest our minds and have lunch.
Before we knew it the clock showed 7:30 p.m. and it was time to officially close the polls! We all were exhausted, but we started into our task list and completed it within about 30 minutes. Then one Republican and one Democrat from my voting location drove together to the board of elections office to drop off our equipment and our voting information.
I don’t think you’ll ever hear any election worker tell you that they do it for the money, but between training and work on the day of the election, it was a chance to earn $150!
For me, I was just happy to be one small piece of conducting a fair, open and transparent election in my home county.
Many people have died so that we can continue to have the freedom to choose our leaders. I believe that our American experiment is the best form of government the world has seen, but for us to continue to prosper, we must be engaged and we must exercise our right to vote!
My call to you is twofold: please do not squander your right to vote, as many people across the world will never have this right. Secondly, if you’re able to do it, call the board of elections office (419) 447-4424 and become an election worker!
People from all different age groups and backgrounds work during the election, but I was told our average age for a poll worker is about 83! During every election cycle, we’re always in need of new people who are willing to give a day to Democracy.
We need about 210-215 people from across the county to help us conduct the election, but it seems like it is becoming more and more difficult to fill those spots.
It’s easy, it’s fun and it’s something that you’ll never forget. It’s a chance to be part of what makes our country great. You’ll have the opportunity to interact with people from all across the county, you’ll make a few bucks and be able to say that you were an important part of putting on a successful election!
If you don’t believe me, try it out for yourself during the March 17 Primary Election, I’d love to hear about your experience.