Everyone at some point in their life should be a poll worker. Since this is impossible to accomplish, I would like to share my experiences. I have been a poll worker in New Jersey and most recently last Tuesday right here in my home county of Pike County, Pa. What I learned about the process of voting and vote counting was enlightening, instructive, and unmeasurable. When it comes to one’s ability to separate fact from fiction and instill a sense of confidence in a system, absolutely nothing can replace firsthand experience.
Before the day starts all electric scanners are set up and turned on at each polling place. Each scanner prints out a paper record showing the polling location, the scanner’s own ID number, and a list of every candidate’s name on the ballot with the number of votes they received. This being 7 a.m., all vote counts recorded zero. Each paper record is posted to the door of the polling place for all to see. It is transparent, accurate, and public knowledge.
Each polling location is given a stack of blank numbered paper ballots. The total number of blank ballots received is recorded by the board of elections. It is impossible for someone to add or remove blank ballots without the board of elections noticing that the numbers no longer match the county’s records. At the end of the day, the number of completed ballots cast, number of damaged ballots, and the number of blank ballots remaining must match the total number received that day. There can be no missing ballots. Each paper ballot must be accounted for. There cannot be more ballots cast than were received. But ballot protection did not stop there.
No paper ballot is given to a voter until they have been vetted against the voter logbooks. My job along with my fellow poll workers was to cross-reference each and every voter against their voter information recorded in the county’s registered voter logs. As they sign the log book, I add their name to a separate vote count sheet, which assigns a number to each voter receiving a paper ballot. I record and initial this number next to their name in the log book. My initials tells the board of elections that I followed any instructions they placed by that voter’s name before I initialed anything. Most had none, some had notes to ask for ID or collect an unreturned mail-in ballot. Voter fraud is a federal offense, so you can rest assured I did my due diligence as I prefer to not spend up to five years in the slammer.
The process of recording names on numbered sheets provided a total count of voters that received a ballot. These lists cross-referenced the log books for accuracy. The totals on the numbered sheets must match the total number of paper ballots given out and the number of signatures entered in the log books. There cannot be more ballots cast than the number of listed voters on the voter sheets or signatures in the log books. Ballot protection did not stop here.
If a voter makes an error on their ballot and requests a new one, that damaged ballot is taken back and placed in a locked box. These are counted and recorded at night’s end. Again there can be no missing paper ballots.
Each completed paper ballot is then scanned electronically. The voter places their ballot into the scanner. If the scanner cannot read the ballot, it is returned so the voter can correct the issue. Once the scanner reads the ballot it is automatically sent into the locked bin below the scanner. All paper ballots are saved as back-up should something happen to the scanner. Votes are protected and can be reconciled against the results recorded by the scanner. It’s the vital paper ballot backup! But ballot protection did not stop there.
At the end of the night when polls are closed and every voter has scanned their ballot, each scanner prints out its paper record of the day’s activity. Just as it did in the morning, each candidate on the ballot is listed and votes cast for that candidate are shown. These printed records are sent to the board of elections under lock and key. They are also posted right alongside the morning’s scanner reports on the door of the polling place. The total votes recorded must match the total number of paper ballots given out.
The paper ballots cast by each scanner are sealed in locked bags and labeled with its scanner information. This way, should the need arise to count these paper, ballots the tallies can be cross-referenced against their scanner’s records
All these steps and processes are done in the open. During the day voters were in the polling location, and anyone witnessing something can speak up. Poll workers are registered voters. We have our own political views. We were registered Republicans, Democrats, or Independents. We were not allowed to wear any clothing associated with any of the candidates. As our Judge of Elections stated after we took an oath to uphold all rules and regulations, we are now in Switzerland. To make the argument that more watchers are required to keep us on our toes is unfounded. There were nine poll workers and a constable on site. We had poll watchers present. Nothing got done that was not done without another watching the entire process.
I can go on and on but the bottom line — this is a system that works. It is work done by your fellow citizens and neighbors whose sole interest is making sure your votes are counted. I welcomed and checked in every voter who approached me whether they wore a Trump hat or a Biden button, masked or unmasked. I made sure that each person who came to me voted by paper ballot or provisional ballot. I am proud of the work I did last Tuesday and proud of my fellow poll workers, no matter their political leanings.
To now have citizens across this country saying poll workers are committing fraud is a personal attack on me and the dedicated workers doing their jobs to count your votes, to count everyone’s vote. To make rallying cries in one state to stop the count and in another to count every vote makes zero sense. In a democracy all votes properly cast deserve to be counted be they mail in, absentee, military, provisional or cast the day of. This is how we elect those we wish to govern this nation of ours. The majority wins. When we allow disgruntled politicians to whip us up into a frenzy using baseless facts, we allow our better selves to be manipulated into believing a system trusted for over 200 years suddenly is failing us.
I am here as a witness to the vote counting process and can attest that it is transparent and fair. There was zero fraud that I saw. Poll workers went above and beyond to insure those with issues were able to cast votes. If a voter left our polling place disenfranchised it was of their own doing, not because we denied them. You can trust the democratic process. You may not be happy with the outcome, but please take comfort knowing we still live in a democracy. I for one will accept the results peacefully and live to vote another day. I pray my fellow citizens across this wonderful country of ours do the same and allow for a peaceful transition of power as we have done since the beginning.