Precinct Election Official Training

Justice and Democracy dominate my thoughts these days. Especially this year, as we approach the U.S. Presidential Election and America’s broader reckoning with its history of Racism. I never want to lose sight of my truest citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven. Still, some of this year’s reading compels me to use my American citizenship for the glory of God. I want to do my part to pursue and protect the Democratic process as a way to promote Justice in our society. Consequently, I decided to volunteer to serve as a Precinct Election Official for Portage County.

The American election system depends on its people to vote and to create space for others’ to vote, as well. The system must be fair and balanced. Particularly with issues of Racial Justice. People of Color have been historically been marginalized and disenfranchised. They are actively turned away at the polls. They are intimidated (even in this year’s Elections). Or they are simply disadvantaged by not having a polling location in their neighborhood or easily accessible by public transportation. Consequently, I want to volunteer as a Precinct Election Official in order to help to provide oversight and access.

Recently, the Portage County Board of Elections reviewed the application I submitted this summer and designated me as an Alternate Precinct Election Official. As a result, I may or may not be called upon to serve on November 3rd. Even so, the Board of Elections invited me to a training so that I could prepare for service, if the opportunity presents itself. I figure the average age of my fellow trainees was in the range of 65-75. (I was the youngest person in the room by at least 15 years). In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic will likely continue to threaten our area well past Election Day. Furthermore, they say that Precinct Election Officials can be called upon at any point in seventeen hours on Election Day. So, let’s just say that I won’t be making any other plans for November 3rd!

In any event, I learned a lot about the Election process at today’s training session. Not just about processing ballots on Election Day, but also how provisional ballots and absentee ballots fit in the process.

It’s a refreshingly rigorous system!

“We always have ‘D’s paired with ‘R’s for any part of the poll-working process,” the trainer explained. Democrats paired with Republicans. The process includes detailed provisions for observers and checkpoints and cross-checks. Layers of redundancy are built into the equipment used to tally the results. I sat in the training session for over three hours. Still, they sent me home with 133 pages of reference material! On Election Day, I will be partnered with experienced poll-workers. And I think (or at least hope) that I’ll be up for the job.

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