Be a voting volunteer this electionOct 25, 2021 11:44AM ● By Karen Telleen-Lawton
Does it seem like it’s always election season? These days, if you’re lucky, you have the option to vote in person, online or by mail. Many in my town never approach the polls, casting ballots at secure boxes around the county. That’s my habit too, but it doesn’t keep me from the polls. I’ve volunteered in various capacities since I was 18.
For the last presidential election, I was a volunteer poll observer. My job was monitoring voting and being attuned to any difficulties. I reported the actual opening and closing times of the poll, the hourly length of the line, and any issues. With very few exceptions, I witnessed a smooth and benignly boring election.
The poll location assigned to my husband Dave and me was a shuttered store in a shopping plaza. We checked in with the inspector, the top position at the poll. She told us, “My focus is on customer service. I want everyone who comes in here to be happy about the voting process.”
Indeed, the poll was both an efficient and pleasant place. Voters were welcomed and guided through the several-step process.
My husband hung out inside while I waited 75 feet outside the poll for follow-up. “Ask the white guy in the green cap and cargo shorts if he had any problems voting,” he’d text. Or “The Asian woman in the yellow dress left without voting.”
Voters suffered no wait lines at any of the three polls we worked, except before the poll opened. People seemed relieved to be completing the task, and especially satisfied that the process was quick and easy. Over half were returning their early voting envelopes, which the poll workers diligently checked for a signature. They would later be compared to a signature on file by a handwriting expert.
Dave noticed one woman who spoke to an inspector but left without voting. I approached her outside, explained I was a poll observer, and asked if she had trouble voting. I couldn’t quite understand her limited English explanation, but she said she was told she could bring someone back with her to help her vote. I affirmed this and she left.
Dave tipped me off to another pair who left. They were a tall, elderly Native American man accompanied by a volunteer election driver. The voter apparently was registered in the next county. I said I was sure he could cast a provisional ballot anyway. They agreed but said the poll workers advised that casting a regular ballot within his county was a better bet.
The people-watching was fascinating. Few voters displayed party paraphernalia.
I can tell you for a fact that there is no standard voting outfit. People arrived in jeans and sweats, kaleidoscope colors and platform heels. Voters toted kids, limped with crutches, and sported hairstyles from ponytails to pony-tailed goatees.
It’s good to celebrate Election Day. My desire for this and every election season is that everyone votes and that every vote is counted.
Cast your vote by November 2!
For ballot boxes and poll locations call:
Mesa County - 970-244-1662
Montrose County - 970-249-3362
Delta County - 970-874-2153
Never voted before? Lilli-Ann Buffin writes about what voting for the first time felt like.