My Day as an Election Judge 2022
Before the mid-term election this year, election judges in some states were subjected to threats by people who thought past elections were fraudulent. County Clerks’ offices in some parts of our state were inundated with requests for open records requests and questions that arose from the disinformation campaigns that broadcast myths about voting and counting the vote.
So when the call went out to sign up to be an Election Judge, I was glad for the opportunity. Mary Ann Thompson (see photo), a Leaguer who has been an election judge at the Denver Elections Division for years, was my role model. I had served as a volunteer Poll Watcher in 2020 and worked with several other LWV members from around the state to write a whitepaper about Colorado’s model election process which has been called the “Gold Standard” for the country. At the LWVUS National Convention, I took a group of attendees from various states on a field trip to tour our completely transparent Elections Division Center. I knew the “guts” of how our elections work and I wanted to be an active part of making voting accessible for all eligible voters.
The Election Judge application process was straightforward and included information to run a background check on me. I was asked if I was registered as a Democrat, Republican or Independent. The Clerk’s office wants all political parties equally represented at every polling place. We went through several hours of on-line training (with a test at the end!) and a 4-hour, in-person training at the Division office. I was assigned to work at one of Denver County’s 37 Voter Service and Polling Centers (VSPC) at Augustana Lutheran Church.
With my thick election judge manual in hand, I showed up with my team an hour or more before the doors opened to voters. My main job was at the entrance, greeting people and discerning whether they were residents of Denver County. We were right on the border with Glendale which is Arapahoe County, so those residents were directed to the VSPC serving that neighborhood.
Every job is handled by a bipartisan team, assigned by a supervisor. A half dozen judges sat at a bank of computers where they could either check that the person was already registered, that their address was updated in the system or register new voters, including on November 8, Election Day. Every Denver resident was issued a copy of the same three-page ballot we all received in the mail or a provisional ballot if they had just registered. Individual privacy kiosks were available for marking ballots.
Not one person was turned away. A few needed extra assistance or language translation: the elderly man who wanted to submit his wife’s ballot and a woman with limited sight who needed her daughter to read the ballot aloud to her. Only a couple of grumblers complained about waiting in line – at most about 15 minutes, inside. The diversity in age, race and ethnicity was evident. A man who seemed to have learned to speak English as a second language stood at the entrance watching his wife vote, commenting on what a wonderful experience it was. A mom brought her two little girls who gave us their leftover Halloween candy. The majority of voters thanked us for being there as they deposited their ballots in a slotted lockbox. The twelve-to-thirteen-hour days were tiring, but I went home each night feeling energized and appreciative that I live in a state where voting is easy, efficient and accessible.