Republicans Now Have Majority Polling Places

Depend On Citizen Volunteers

September 12, 1990|By Maria Archangelo | Maria Archangelo,Staff writer

Call them the unsung heroes of election days.

Candidates campaign for last-minute votes, supporters hawk the strong points of their choices and party officials urge registered voters to get out to the polls.

But without the residents who volunteer to work at county polling places, nobody's vote would be official and voting day would be a lot more hectic.

For some polling place workers, it's a chance to spend a day serving their country. For others it's an opportunity to catch up on the neighborhood news.

Paul and Elinor Causey of Westminster have worked in Precinct 1, District 7 for the past several years.

Paul, the precinct's Democratic chief judge and a retired teacher at West Middle School, drafted his wife for the work in 1984.

"He's been doing this for about 20 years," said Elinor, a retired East Middle School teacher. "They needed people to teach voters how to use the new computerized voting, and he thought I would be good for the job."

Now that most county voters are familiar with the voting system, Elinor serves as the Democratic ballot box judge.

She said she feels it is important to work at the polls, but she admits to an ulterior motive.

"It's a wonderful opportunity to see friends and neighbors and students who are now old enough to vote," she said.

Elinor said it makes her especially happy to see the students vote, because she tried to teach them the importance of the privilege.

"Even though they used to have off every Election Day, I used to tell them it was more than just a day off from school," she said.

And while Paul and Elinor don't have to worry about taking time off to work at the polls, many other election officials must use vacation or personal days.

This time, Sykesville's Ernest Brown had primary day off from his job at Springfield Hospital Center to work as the ballot box judge in Precinct 5, District 1.

Brown, a stationary engineer at the hospital, has worked along with his wife at the Sykesville Middle School polling place for the past four elections.

"I always wanted to do something like this for my country," said Brown, whose wife, Nancy, is a chief election judge for the precinct.

At Tuesday's primary election, the Causeys and the Browns were among 402 countians who volunteered to start their day at 6 a.m. and work late into the night until the last vote was counted.

In recent years it has become more difficult to find people who are willing to work as chief, ballot box and registration book judges, the Board of Elections reported.

Many women who used to work at the polls are now working at their own careers and no longer have the time.

Adding to the difficulty is the fact that each polling place must have the same number of Democrats and Republicans as election officials.

Election workers also travel throughout the county making sure ballots are returned in proper shape. Some pick up midday returns from each of the voting precincts, the spokeswoman said.

The officials are appointed each election by the Board of Elections and are paid between $75 and $85 for the day's work.

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