A poll worker helps a voter with his ballot at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

A poll worker helps a voter with his ballot at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Voices of the Peninsula: Poll workers ensure election integrity

As a recent retiree, I was invited by a friend to work as an election worker in the November 2020 election

By Patti Truesdell

I have enjoyed reading recent editorials about voting, so I thought I would share my own experiences:

As a recent retiree, I was invited by a friend to work as an election worker in the November 2020 election. I was told that because of COVID finding people was hard that year, so I agreed to help.

My paperwork soon came in the mail and I signed everything I needed to sign. I had to take a class. There was a lot to learn. A lot more than I thought, for sure. We watched a video and took a test. The big day finally came. We set up the night before and arrived at the voting station at about seven in the morning. Voting began at 8 a.m.

Because I was new, they gave me an easy job. Easy. I stood all day at the voting machine and took the ballot and entered them into the voting machine. My job was to be sure that every ballot was correctly placed into the machine and counted. I was to be sure that the person voting did not leave until the machine registered their vote. That was MY job! Everyone else had their own individual jobs helping voters.

When the polls closed at 8 p.m., the real work began. Everything had to be checked two or three times, every ballot, and absentee ballot, checked and re-checked. Every worker had to sign every box until all ballots had been accounted for, every list of every voter checked and matched. I was amazed at how many times I had to sign my name! Then we had to phone in to the precinct to make sure our numbers matched up with the computers’ numbers. Finally, at about 10 p.m., we got the word that everything matched and we signed our final paperwork — everyone had to sign! Whew! We were tired. All boxes sign, sealed and delivered to the borough.

So imagine my surprise a few months later, when I began to hear not just in the national news, but right here in Alaska and here on the peninsula that local election workers were somehow suspect and not to be trusted! That OUR local election workers cannot be trusted to handle ballots with integrity and may even try to influence the election by falsifying the results of the election. That we needed more security or “poll watchers” to keep an eye or prevent election workers from mishandling ballots. Wow! How disappointed and sad I felt.

I believe in voting, and I probably WILL help with voting again because I believe getting out the vote IS the most important thing we can all do! But, just so you know, it is a lot of work! Every vote counts and is counted carefully! Those workers deserve our respect for volunteering. Just having my say!

Patti Truesdell lives in Soldotna.

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