On election day, volunteer poll workers hand out pens, checked in registered voters, clean up ballot boxes, and much more. (Photo in public domain)
Election day may seem long for everyone, but for poll workers, it is an 8+ hour day of ensuring democracy.
Maya Pointer, a Leesville senior, volunteered to work the polls on November 3 to immerse herself in the election.
“I was a little upset that I wouldn’t be able to vote in this election and I thought working a polling place would be a way to understand the process before I actually have to go through it,” wrote Pointer via text. She saw working the polls as an opportunity to be as involved as possible in our democracy since she couldn’t vote.
The day was far from glamorous.
“I had to wake up at 4 a.m. because I had to be at my assigned precinct by 6 a.m,” wrote Pointer. By law, North Carolina polls have to open exactly at 6:30 a.m. Pointer worked for 14 hours, from 6:00 a.m. to around 8:30 p.m., with two breaks.
Polls in North Carolina close at 7:30 p.m., but anyone in line to vote at 7:30 has the right to vote– making the day extend far past closing time. “I left before we finished packing up because I had school the next day,” wrote Pointer.
However, she insists that the early wake up was worth it to see the sense of community fostered by voters.
“The best parts of my day came when parents would come in with their small children to involve them in the voting process,” wrote Pointer. Watching parents explain every part of voting to their children brightened her long day. “It’s between that and the number of first time voters we had. When a first time voter came through we’d clapped for them,” wrote Pointer.
Despite the positive interactions, there were times where things didn’t run as smoothly. “We had a voter come in at 7:25 p.m, about 5 minutes before we’re allowed to start closing, and we thought we had given his registration label for his voter form to the wrong person,” wrote Pointer.
If that were the case, it would mean someone else cast a ballot in his name. “Turns out he had already voted the same day at the same precinct,” wrote Pointer. The whole misunderstanding took about 30 minutes to sort out.
After her experience as a poll worker, Pointer encourages others at Leesville to consider being one too. “Working the poll was a very interesting and eye opening experience and it’s a great way to get community service hours,” wrote Pointer. She wasn’t the only student from Leesville to work the polls. Andrea Borda, a Leesville senior, worked the same precinct as Pointer.
To learn more about becoming an election official for the next municipal election or statewide general election visit the North Carolina State Board of Elections website.