One of the most significant and important rights that we have as American citizens is the right to vote. Here in Cook County, officials have worked on for many years to make it as failsafe as possible.

Cook County has what I feel to be a very efficient system, one of which I was part of for 35-plus years as an election judge. Over the years it was streamlined, improved and made more efficient. 

Election judges are trained and are there to help the voters exercise their right. Those judges are responsible for what happens in their precinct, and their names and/or initials are found on material within the precinct to hold them accountable. 

Did you know that election judges must account for every ballot that is sent to their precinct? If you start out with 500 ballots in the morning, you must know at closing time where they all are. I have experienced the delight when at the end of the day, seeing all the numbers tally correctly or the agony of trying to find that one ballot that must be accounted for.

The work of an election judge is a worthwhile job and yes, you do get paid.

I am writing on this subject because Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough has announced a shortage of judges for the upcoming election. I encourage people to look into serving by visiting the Cook County Clerk’s website at to learn more. I highly recommend high school students take the opportunity. Yes, it’s a sanctioned day off, but you will learn much about the electoral process.

Over my many years as an election judge at Blythe Park School, I met many people and worked with some judges that became friends. We would look forward to seeing what we called “our regular voters.”

The most consistent voters were usually those who were a bit older, and though there were easier ways to vote, they enjoyed doing it in person on election day. They also enjoyed the candy I would have on the table — one voter always requested Starlight mints.

I encourage you to consider being an election judge. Be part of the process, you will be rewarded in many ways.