From the front lines

Poll worker shares views on the election, vote counting process

During early voting and election day, junior Presley Berry worked at the polls and observed the election process firsthand.


During early voting and election day, junior Presley Berry worked at the polls and observed the election process firsthand.

Presley Berry, Staff Writer

In arguably the most important election in our nation’s history, I had the privilege of being a poll worker.

I truly got to appreciate the hard work and dedication so many wonderful people give to make this election fair and accurate. Although I cannot vote yet, I feel that I have been able to acquire inside information about the election that has left everyone biting their nails.

I heard about available positions through a friend and, as someone who is very interested and involved in politics, I jumped at the opportunity. I live in Comal county and worked close to home, at the Bulverde Annex.

Every experience I had working at the polls truly exemplified how serious this process is. There are routines to follow and a checklist to work through every morning and evening. Each person I worked with took their job very seriously, as did I. 

My daily tasks included checking photo IDs, asking voters for their signatures and cleaning off each machine after someone voted. 

You have to be 16 to work, so this was my first opportunity to be there but almost every person I worked with has been doing this for many years and were very proud of the work done. 

I made a friend who worked on the Kennedy campaign and several who worked in the Texas capitol. 

Moments of constant work would be followed by hours without a single voter. 

But every moment I felt proud of being a part of this incredible process, whether it was bringing out a bell to ring and cheer when a first time voter came in or handing out future voter stickers to the curious kids who came to help their parents.

This was the longest time Texans have had to vote early, and with with more than 700 people a day voting in the first week, this was the right decision. Several times I arrived to work at 6:30 in the morning with a long line of voters already formed. 

Gov. Greg Abbott declared that election clerks and voters did not have to wear masks. Although every worker and most voters still wore their masks, every machine was cleaned every time it was touched. We made sure, as did others around the country, that no voter would have to choose between voting and their health.

I truly believe in this process and wanted to be involved in any way I could. Although it was a long three weeks and what feels like an even longer several days, this, as is almost every event that happened in 2020, will go down in history, and I feel lucky to even be around to watch it.

Voter fraud seems to be the main concern over the past few days. Although the president has made some bold claims about it, voter fraud is rare and hard to actually commit.

This is a non-partisan process with multiple signatures, photo IDs, double checkers and reliable machines to make sure this race is as fair as possible. 

So far, Trump has taken multiple states to court but was denied a case because of lack of evidence. He went as far as to say in a speech on Thursday, “If you count the legal votes I would win.” 

Twitter has even taken down multiple of his posts about voter fraud for containing untrue information. Besides wearing masks and safety regulations, nothing has changed from previous years. 

Fraud was suspected when the last set of votes for Pennsylvania and Michigan came in and were overwhelmingly Democratic. But, this was no surprise. Trump openly criticized mail in ballots and many of those votes were from big cities that tend to be Democratic. In fact, 79 percent of mail in ballots have been for Vice President Biden.

Five states that tend to lean Republican and went to Trump this year have moved to almost completely vote by mail for the last several years. 

“There’s just very little evidence that there is more than a handful of fraudulent (vote-by-mail) cases across the country in a given election cycle,” said Judd Choate, director of elections in the Colorado Department of State.

Calling voter fraud is also not new for President Trump. In 2016, when Hilary Clinton received 3 million more votes than Trump, he formed a panel to investigate voter fraud. But after many months, it found no evidence and was disbanded in 2018. 

If Trump truly believes voter fraud has occurred and finds evidence to support that, he can easily take this to court. He can also call for recounts in states like Georgia where the margin between the two candidates is close. There is no outcome in this election where democracy won’t prevail.

 Do not be frustrated or suspicious about how long it is taking to count these votes. This is not an easy job. Sometimes I would go home after working 12 straight hours and fall right asleep, and I was only helping during the voting process. And I’m sure anyone alive for the 36 days of counting in the 2000 election is laughing at our impatience. 

Election officials are working hard, and they have every intention to create a fair election. Twenty-two states including the District of Columbia accept votes after election day as long as they were postmarked on election day. This is extremely important because this makes sure everyone overseas in the military gets the chance to vote.

Trump’s accusations are an insult to not only the poll workers but every American who went out and voted and values democracy. In some states, like Georgia where they are still counting, people waited in line for more than 8 hours and know how important it is for their vote to be counted.

 Although it is very stressful, this is one of the greatest moments of American democracy. We have had the largest voter turnout of all time. Women, people of color and young people came out in record numbers. 

No matter if you like the result or not, this is a moment to be celebrated and we must accept the results and trust that the future president won’t be the president for the Democrats or Republicans but for the American people.