Election judges gear up for big day

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Joanne Kosey

Next Tuesday is Election Day, also known around here as Be Kind to Your Election Judge Day. Yes, the election is finally here, and on Nov. 6 we will go to the polls - if you haven't already - and we will no longer have to endure the political ads on TV. Even infomercials start to look good about now.

But did you know that election judges (I have been a longtime election judge at Blythe Park School) have been gearing up for this day for quite some time? They are trained professionals. By that, I mean they have attended classes and taken tests (both online and in class) before given the OK to be at the polls by 5 a.m. on Election Day. This means they are up about 4 a.m., after having set up the polling place the day before. Yawn!

Classes for equipment manager judges are quite intensive, because they need to be able to handle any equipment problems that may occur before, during or after the polls close.

Judges can only hope the tape does not run out on a machine while a line of voters, usually in a hurry, are waiting. Equipment judges can only hope the machines, which worked so well the day before, will work well on The Day. "EMs," as they are referred to, also have their cellphones handy and transmit the votes at the end of the day.

Administrative judges are responsible for making sure that all judges in their precinct are contacted and able to help with setup and making sure that during the day, they are all able to work at any of the stations in the polling place.

And paperwork! Let me tell you about paperwork! There is plenty of it, but not as much as there used to be. There needs to an accurate account of all votes cast and the number of ballots used and unused. Everything needs to back in the right place or envelope and all judges sign off on everything. This includes repacking the machines.

If all goes well two judges take the rolling cart and a large envelope to a receiving station.

The Cook County Clerk's Office has done much to streamline the voting process and there are many ways one can vote, so there are no excuses. One may vote in person on Election Day, by absentee ballot through the mail or (and there is still time) at one of the 44 suburban early voting polling places.

So be kind to your election judge; he or she has will be putting in a long day and are critical to the election process.

Vote! It's your right!

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