Guest Commentary by Kathleen Maisner
Hi - my name is Kathleen and I am here to tell you about being a precinct worker.
This is a job you don’t do often - only when there is a primary or a general election. But it can be long, hard, and stressful when you do. And as someone who taught middle and high school students for 38 years, I know long, hard, and stressful! For the past 12 years I have been a precinct worker or chairperson for every election.
Workers begin well before Election Day with training from the city or township clerk. We arrive on election morning well before 7AM to set up the voting areas. Workers do everything they can to make sure voting moves quickly, easily, and smoothly from the time the polls open at 7AM until they close at 8PM.
We are volunteer members of the community, so we want things to go well for everyone. Depending on the number of voters at any time, it can be pretty hectic. Workers are given a lunch and dinner break, a little down time. Most bring something to eat with them - it’s easier than leaving the building. A few times workers have returned to find NO parking spaces left! Precinct chairs usually grab a break for a few minutes whenever possible. I have at times stood right outside the door eating my tuna sandwich in case I’m needed.
A precinct worker's day doesn’t end at 8PM when the polls close. After the last person in line votes, everything has to be balanced, counted, closed, locked, and signed. Then the chairperson and one other worker take everything to the clerk’s office where it is reviewed and checked and balanced again.
It can be a 15 or 16 hour day. Nevertheless it is a highly rewarding experience. Precinct workers are always in demand and I would encourage you to volunteer. It is a valuable way to give back to your community. Democracy is not a spectator sport!
A few things to remember on Election Day that would make things so much better for the precinct workers:
Remember, poll workers are volunteers.
We are people doing our best in what can be a difficult situation.
Workers do not make the rules; but we are sworn to enforce them.
We are your neighbors!
Please, please - wear your mask. Thank you - be sure to vote!
Kathleen is a retired North Farmington High School teacher who has worked as a precinct chairperson for every election since 2008.