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Election inspectors talk about their roles on election day

This team works well together on election day in precinct 1, from left: Jan Paver, Jackie Sabourin, Lorna Massa, Wendy Gutowski and Angel Carlos.
With the general election coming up on Nov. 8, there is a need for election inspectors. To provide an overview of what the periodic job entails, we discussed the role with two inspectors who have worked at many elections.

Jan Paver first got involved as an inspector at the urging of her friend Susan Gardner, whose husband was mayor pro-tem. As chairperson of Precinct 1, she begins election day by getting the machines going, posting signs, and making sure that voters are registered correctly. The inspectors make sure the number of voters who check in at the polls matches the number of ballots cast.

A problem that typically occurs on election day involves people going to the wrong polling place. “Sometimes people who go to the wrong precinct argue about where they should vote,” said Paver. However, once the voter is shown the precinct boundaries on the map, they head to the right precinct.

Paver says “I enjoy seeing my neighbors – they all know where I am on election day. It’s a nice day to get to talk with people.”

Paver, who’s been working on elections for 35 years, recalls the old days. “It’s changed so much from when we first started. Back then, there was a big role of paper that came out the back of the voting station that you had to count.” The voting stations each had a privacy curtain and levers that had to be turned to record a vote, with a bigger lever that set the choices made on the entire ballot before the privacy curtain opened. Back then, she often didn’t get out of the polling place until midnight. Now, she’s done by 9 p.m., since votes are fed directly into the tabulator machine by voters after they complete their ballot.

Angel Castro and Jan Paver work as election inspectors
The wait time during general elections can be long. “People understand that you have to wait, but some people want to get through the line really fast. At times, people are grumpy about who’s running but most people are happy to be voting,” Paver said.

For people who don’t like visiting the polls, Paver suggests they apply for an absent voter ballot.

Angel Castro has been an inspector for three years. He got involved when one of the seniors that he was helping with taxes through the AARP program told him about the need for election inspectors. As a retired supply chain manager from Ford, he enjoys doing things to benefit others. The most important part of the job, Castro believes, is to know the rules and treat the public with respect. “You have to be kind to people. People respond to how you treat them. The key is to like people. You have to be flexible.”

During training, he learned that “You have to be thoroughly neutral and impartial about your choice of candidates. You can’t express your views one way or the other.”

Even though he has to get up early on election day, he finds the job interesting because the inspectors rotate assignments throughout the day.

On election day, Castro says people tend to be happy. “I think they feel good about doing their civic duty. We feel good when we are doing the right thing and voting is the right thing to do,” he said.

To apply for the role of election inspector, which pays $175 for election day, plus $30 for training, please contact the City Clerk office in person or use the online Election Inspector form.



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