Daily Connector | Election Day | Cheryl Hacker

On November 3rd, I served as an election poll worker.  I hadn’t worked at the polls before then, but ever since I became eligible to vote some decades ago, I’ve voted in every general election and most primaries.  I believe in the democratic election process.  It has always given me hope.

In spring I began thinking about serving as a poll worker, when it became apparent that COVID -19 would be with us for a while and the regular poll workers, many of whom are seniors, signaled discomfort about working in a COVID environment.  My husband, Jeff Ferriell, talked through the pros and cons of stepping in.  I’m a few years under 65 and Jeff’s just over 65.  Jeff had double by-pass surgery a couple of years ago, putting him squarely in the at risk club.   We decided to wait at least a couple months before making a decision.  Then the President of the United States made disparaging remarks about the election process -  casting doubt on the integrity of the election.  And, with that, we both signed up with the Franklin County Board of Elections.  I was appointed a “Machine Judge” and Jeff a “Voting Location Deputy.” (Jeff had some experience years ago as a precinct captain.)

I was impressed with the Franklin County Board of Elections organizational effort to train the many new poll workers.  There was mandatory on-line training and in-person training with the machines where we went through all imaginable scenarios where glitches could occur.  There was much to learn but we felt ready.   Our official duties began election eve at our assigned precinct station at Schiller Park in German Village.  There were about 30 of us - all strangers to one another and almost all were first-time poll workers.  But with our manuals in hand, we worked together to set up the several tables and voting machines.

In case you were wondering, there is no shift work for poll workers on Elections Day.  There is one shift -  5:30 am (an hour before voting begins) to at least an hour after the polls close at 7:30 pm.  It was a long, but truly gratifying, day.  When we arrived for duty at 5:30 am, a line had already been formed at the door – an hour before the doors would open for voting.  And although these voters would be standing outside for another hour, they greeted us warmly and even applauded as we entered the building.  It made my day.  Throughout the day, the voters were respectful. All wore masks, although there were a couple of voters who let the mask drop under their nose.  Many expressed appreciation.  By the end of the day, I was exhausted -  a good exhausted.  It was good to be with a group dedicated to a common purpose -  to help make our electoral process successful.  I arrived hopeful and left grateful.  I’ll gladly do it again.