The indicators are all around us: mailboxes brimming with campaign material, candidate forums and signs springing up along the highway and in front yards. It is election season once again.
In the Auditor/Recorder’s Office, election season is nearly year-round. In fact, we have a separate Elections Department staffed by two employees who are primarily dedicated to the election process. Their job is to work closely with the Secretary of State in responding to the questions, needs and concerns of the public. They do everything from registering voters to working with taxing districts to processing and mailing absentee ballots to setting up polling places and supplies. And, they are the connection between my office and the election front lines: the poll workers.
Idaho County has 28 voting precincts. Five of those are designated ‘mail out’ precincts, where the low concentration of residents and difficulty of finding an accessible polling site makes it more cost effective to mail the ballots to the registered electors. One precinct is dedicated as an ‘absentee’ precinct, where all absentee ballots returned by mail and those voted in our office are counted. Each precinct has a chief judge - someone who is responsible for the efficient and accurate conduct of the poll workers in that precinct.
By the time election day arrives, the poll workers have already been at work. Many will attend an in-person training that will reinforce the knowledge they already have and introduce them to any changes in election laws. Our poll worker training covers everything from the duties of each of the various poll worker jobs to ballot accounting at the end of a long day. It also gives workers an opportunity to share any of their concerns and to ask for clarification regarding specific situations that may arise.
When you go to vote on Election Day, it’s likely that you will see people you recognize and know, as our poll workers come from within our various communities to serve in positions which are increasingly demanding. What used to be serious business (voting) with a social twist (visiting with your friends and neighbors throughout the day) has now become just plain serious. Recent changes in election laws have voters coming to the polls with many more questions and sometimes the answers provided are not what the voting public wants to hear. Just remember that those folks on the front lines are there to help the process, not hinder it. They have been trained in the current election laws and practices and are doing their best to uphold those laws.
We have every confidence in our poll workers and their abilities. The purpose of providing training before each election is to make sure our poll workers feel confident and prepared to handle voters and their questions. Poll workers’ confidence on the job corresponds directly with the voters’ confidence that their votes will be counted correctly. For many citizens, the act of voting constitutes their only participation in government. To that end, we want Idaho County voters to feel that we have gone the extra mile to ensure that the election process is conducted with honesty and integrity.
In the event you feel your questions or concerns have not been adequately addressed, please ask to speak with the chief judge at the precinct or contact my office directly at 983-2751.