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  • Writer's pictureGreg

Support Democracy - be an Election Judge

​A theme of the 2024 election has been the defense of democracy.  Democrats want to ensure that the rule of law and the Constitution remain the law of the land.  Increasingly, Republicans want to ensure that their candidates win and, if they don’t, then claim that elections are rigged and unfair and should be ignored, or the will of the voters should be overruled by biased judges.

​Other than vote for those who would defend democracy, it may seem that there is not much you might do.  In fact, there is something you can do: become an Election Judge.

​ When you vote in person you come into the polling station, provide your name, sign a form that confirms your signature/identity, and you are provided a ballot to vote. The people who staff those polling station are election judges.  I am one.

​Election Judges are the ones who set up the polling place the day before.  We have a stack of voter identifications that include your name, address and a facsimile of your signature.  When you arrive and provide your name, we find your page in that stack and have you sign your name.  Only if the signature does not match will we ask for your ID (signatures may change over time).  We’ll place your signed page into the stack of voters who have voted and then provide you with a ballot and remind you the proper way to fill it out, point out that it is, or isn’t, a double sided ballot and point you to the “booth” where you can fill out your ballot in private.  At the end, you place the ballot into the tabulator and earn your “I Voted” sticker!

​At the start of the day the judges, as a group, confirm that the tabulator is empty and that the vote count is zero.  At the end of the day, we sort the ballots by precinct when there is more than one precinct at a site.  The thumb drive with the tabulator vote totals and the physical ballots are hand delivered jointly by one Republican and one Democrat to the County Clerk’s office that night. For any given precinct there are Democrats and Republicans serving as Election Judges, but we act as non-partisans.  

​The time required to be an Election Judge is not great. You attend a two hour training. You assist your precinct in assembling the voting booths and unpack the blank ballots and the stacks of voter records the day before the election (typically about an hour’s effort).  

​The real time needed is election day.  It is a long day - a very long day. 5:30AM to get the polls ready and open. The day ends after polls close and when the ballots are sorted, typically around 8:00 to 8:30PM.  

Democracy works when voters have easy access to voting.  Having sufficient Election Judges to staff the precincts is critical. You can be one of those judges. To sign up you simply have to contact your County Clerk.  In our case, the County Clerk’s office is at 404 Elm St. Room 101 in Rockford.  Or you can give them a call at (815) 319-4252.  You can be part of the reason democracy works here in northern Winnebago County. For November 2024 we need a few more.  Please join us.  

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