Tell Me About It: Behind the scenes on Election Day

November 4, 2012

An interview with Dorothy Danner. Her role: She works as a poll supervisor at Lima Senior on Election Day.

1. How long have you been a poll worker?

I think for almost 25 years. I started doing this before my husband passed away, and heís been gone since January 1999. I actually have two jobs at the polls.

2. What jobs do you have as a poll worker?

I am the presiding judge and the poll supervisor. As the presiding judge, I have to pick up all the supplies for Election Day, issue the oath to the other poll workers, make sure everything runs smoothly and I take care of the blue book. Thatís the book where you ask the people for their name, address and identification, and then you have them sign the book. I also help out others, like if we need to go out to a car to give someone a ballot because the person canít come in ó you need two people for that, one from each party. I also have to return all the supplies and ballots back to the Board of Elections after weíre done. The poll supervisor basically oversees everything. My job is to take care of any issues that arise and to call the Board of Elections if I donít know the answer.

3. How did you get interested in being a poll worker?

Well, I had friends that did it, and it seemed like a nice way to meet your neighbors. Of course, when I started, I was a roving poll worker and got sent to different precincts. Now, I am assigned to my own precinct where I reside.

4. How many hours do you work when there is an election?

Well, we are required to go to poll workersí school once or twice a year. That is only about an hour or so. Itís usually before the primary and again before the main election. As the presiding judge, there are some special training sessions, too. I have to be there on Election Day at 6 a.m. and I have to stay, not just until the polls close at 7:30 p.m., but until all of our work is done. We have to tally all the ballots ó that means we have to account for every ballot we received, and we also have to do tear down and put things away.

5. What does Election Day look like for you?

It means getting up very early ó although I am generally an early riser. Usually, itís a long day. Sometimes itís very long and drawn out, especially when it is a general election year and all the things on the ballot are local. Then you can sit for three to four hours with nobody coming in. Usually workers will bring a book, or I like to do puzzle books or Iíll crochet or knit while Iím sitting in there if it isnít busy. The presidential election years are usually busier, but we were told that up to 50 percent of people had voted early, so we might not be as busy.

6. What is one thing that would surprise people about being a poll worker?

I guess the amount of work that goes into it. I think most people think you show up that day, sit there for 13 hours and thatís the end of it. Itís a lot more involved than that.

7. Are you involved in other political activities?

This is basically all that I do. I canít get out and pound the pavement like I used to. I had both hips replaced and walking isnít as easy as it used to be. I used to pass out information and go to rallies and things like that. Now, I donít like crowds.

8. Whatís the most interesting thing that happened to you while working at the polls?

One time we had a dog steal some of our flags outside. The most interesting thing, though, was probably last year when we were moved to Lima Senior High School, and we had a bomb scare. My grandkids go there, so yes, I was kind of shook up about that. You just never know what might happen on Election Day.