Isms: Views on life in rural America
November 10, 2022
By the time this edition of SAM hits your mailbox, election results should be completed and canvassing boards will have or will be scheduled to meet to verify results.
I did my civic duty and cast a ballot. Did you? I haven’t missed an election since I hit that magic age of 18.
I also perfomed a second civic duty prior to the election and it’s an experience I encourage any registered voter to undertake. After several discussions, over multiple years, about election processes, with Antelope County Clerk Lisa Payne, I leapt at the chance to fill out a deck of test ballots.
The rules were simple: Fill in completely the specified number of ovals for each race, using a black pen. Same rules that apply when you’re in the voting booth. To verify my tallies matched the machine’s final printout of results, I hand recorded each ballot’s vote on a spreadsheet.
Upon returning the ballots, I watched Payne’s assistant clerk, Denise Kurpgeweit, prepare the counting machine. As ballots ran through the machine, they are sent to one of three levels. Any ballot with an undervote or overvote files in the first level; the next spot includes all ballots with write-in candidates. The bottom level is reserved for completed ballots.
Our next order of business was to verify the count in each race. Smooth sailing after counting four races. And, then? Several counts did not match. In one case, I overvoted. That ballot was noted on the report. In a few other cases, I recorded a vote for candidate ‘A’ when, in fact, I voted for candidate ‘B.’ We worked together to go through each ballot to verify what I had written on the tally sheet. In each case, human error - MY human error - caused the discrepancy. Once we corrected my mistakes, we continued until all ballots were counted.
It was an eye-opening experience.
Lessons learned: Mistakes on my test deck were all of my making. Either I was interrupted or wasn’t paying attention closely or was in a hurry or for whatever reason, I did not record the vote correctly. It could - and probably would - happen at any time.
I also learned each step personnel from the clerk’s office go through to prepare for Election Day, from notifying the public about the election and voting processes through the post-poll work, including counting. Personally, the process would be a great civics lesson for students - heck, everyone - to see the voting process in action.
“The most important office, and the one which all of us can and should fill, is that of private citizen,” former associate Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis wrote.
Glad I had an opportunity to fill that office.