Beyond the ballot: Carbondale poll workers discuss their role on Election Day

By Janae Mosby and Elizabeth Hamilton

On election day, the spotlight is on the presidential candidates. The process of voting is so ingrained in American life it can be easy to forget elections don’t happen without the hard work and conviction of the volunteer poll workers.

There are 350,000 poll workers across the country that are working to help the democratic process run smoothly, according to the Wall Street Journal. 

With 44 total polling locations, Jackson County residents have several locations to make their voices heard.

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Poll workers at three of these locations took time to share their experiences. 

Tucker Poshard, a 17-year-old poll worker, was not able to vote for this year’s election, but he still wanted to make a difference. 

Poshard turns 18 years old on Nov. 4, just barely missing the cutoff of being old enough to vote. 

“I really wanted to vote this year, but I couldn’t. That is why I chose to do this because I felt duteous to my country and try to help preserve the integrity of this election,” Poshard said.

Poshard said he worried there would be fighting between people with differing opinions.

“It tended to be pretty good for the most part. Everybody respected each other’s decisions and the right to vote,” Poshard said.

Sharon Lorinskas, a poll worker at Carbondale High School, said she enjoyed seeing the large number of people voting. 

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“I really have enjoyed seeing the large number of people voting, particularly a lot of young people and first time voters,” Lorinskas said.

Lorinskas said the biggest challenge has been with people that thought they registered or did not know they had to register.

“We have to send them to the Civic Center to register and we had a few people who were at the wrong location,” Lorinskas said.

Another issue that has come up is people who applied for or received a mail-in ballot but did not bring it with them, Lorinskas said.

First-time poll worker and hospital employee Paula Golz said the best way to help is to make sure everyone allows their voices to be heard through voting. 

The voting process has seen some changes this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Working at the hospital, Golz said she is used to the extra cleaning COVID-19 brings; however only having access to 20 or so privacy sleeves that have to be cleaned constantly is not always easy.

“Being in the middle of a pandemic, there has been a shortage of people to come out and act as poll workers. I thought, as somebody who is younger and is less likely to have complications from COVID, to come and do my part,” Poshard said.

Staff reporter Janae Mosby can be reached at jmosby@dailyegyptian.com or on Twitter at @mosbyj. 

Staff reporter Elizabeth Hamilton can be reached at [email protected] 

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