(Via KARK) In 12 days, America will elect a new Commander in Chief, and Arkansans will decide major issues that could shape the state’s Constitution.
Early voting is already underway. In Pulaski County, election officials have been prepping for months to keep complaints and problems down at the polls.
“We have to go through this process to renew our minds and know what has been changed in the election and rules,” says Poll Worker Marshall Blain, who has been working the polls, along with his wife, for about six years. “It is a service – not only for our community but for the state.”
They’re just two of nearly one-thousand workers who will be behind the scenes at more than 100 polling sites county-wide on Election Day.
“If it wasn’t for poll workers, we wouldn’t even have an election,” says Pulaski County Election Commission Director Bryan Poe.
According to State Election Commission data, 7,000 to 8,000 people statewide have worked the polls in each of the past three primary elections.
“If everything is working correctly you shouldn’t even really notice us,” Poe continues.
State rules require poll worker training each election cycle. The goal is confidence in the election process.
“If people don’t have confidence in it, then that undercuts everything. We want to make sure we’re doing everything by the book. We’re crossing all our t’s dotting all our i’s,” he adds.
Election laws change, like when voter ID was required, but then it wasn’t.
“One change like that can totally shift how you have to run elections. Absolutely,” says Poe.
That can lead to confusion and frustration for voters who aren’t up to speed, and that can be stressful for poll workers.
“It is sometimes, when you don’t have to show your ID and that’s been an issue in the past. People don’t want to show their ID and that’s fine,” Blain says.
At least three counties this election are trying out new electronic equipment, which means there’s a chance for problems to pop up.
“That’s been a training issue for sure in some counties because it’s a lot, even though tablets are fairly easy to use, it’s more complicated than just using a paper book,” says Poe.
Plus, there will be issues printed on the ballot, like the casino measure, medical tort reform and Issue 7, one of the two medical marijuana issues, where votes won’t count, because the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled they were invalid.
“It really speeds things up if they knew in advance what they were going to vote for and who,” Blain says.
If voters don’t realize what they’re voting on, election officials say that can create a clog up and no amount of training can allow them to predict when a wave of voters will come through.
“If they’ll be patient, we will get to them and it will be well worth the wait,” says Poll Worker Mary Blain.
Marshall and Mary both look forward to a full day of seeing Americans exercising their rights, especially first timers.
“They come in and show them the process and usually they have a parent with them that is really proud and taking pictures the first time. That is exciting,” he says.
And many poll workers like them will be here the next time election season rolls around, to watch the country decide what’s next for the land of the free.
These poll workers are human, and election day is going to be pretty busy, so errors can happen. If you do meet with something that causes you concern on election day, you can report or make a complaint to the local County Election Commission or the State Board of Election Commissioners at the links below.
State Election Commission Complaint Link:
Local Election Commission: