NewsElection Watch


Election Judges: a backbone of the election process

Posted at 5:46 PM, Nov 14, 2022

EL PASO COUNTY — Weeks before the November midterm election, the El Paso County election headquarters is buzzing with anticipation. In the back corner of the room is a cubicle with three people, and the phones are ringing continuously.

Voters are calling in with questions, from what to do after their cat spilled coffee on the ballot to what to do if they didn't receive their ballot at all.

Stewart Miller, a Republican, is one of the voices on the other side of the call. He's one of the hundreds of election judges working in El Paso County for the election season.

"It’s always changing, never the same," Miller whose been working as an election judge since 2016 in El Paso County said, "early on it was something we felt we needed to do as concerned citizens."

Miller works as an election judge alongside his wife, it's an experience they've shared together for the past few elections. Miller said they've done several jobs from ballot processing to signature verification.

Election judges have a variety of jobs in the state's largest county. From taking phone calls to ensuring ballots are filled out with the right color of ink, and verifying signatures on ballots- all of the jobs are done with bipartisan teams.

"We tell our friends that we do this and they ask questions and we always mention it's always a Republican, a Democrat, and/or an Independent or a Libertarian or whatever the case may be but you always have that balance, no matter what the job," Miller said.

For Alan Rainville, a Democrat, who's also been working as an election judge since 2016, sees the job as a critical part of the election process.

“The elections seem to be getting more robust there’s a lot of activity going on at elections, we have people who are doubting the elections and I believe in the elections I believe the elections are safe, secure, transparent," Rainville said.

Rainville now works as a lead for the Voter Service and Polling Center (VSPC). He oversees the centers in making sure they're opening and closing for voters in a smooth process.

In the past few years, a slew of misinformation and disinformation has come out against election workers and election systems. It's something election judges say has made parts of the job difficult.

"It’s kind of frustrating because we know what goes on here and the people who are getting the misinformation, disinformation, you know they can go to the sources but they just choose not to go to the correct sources to get the right information,” Rainville said.

Brian Schaaf, an Unaffiliated election judge said one of the biggest misunderstandings among voters is how Colorado's mail-in ballot system. Colorado adopted universal mail-in ballots in 2013.

"I would encourage people to get off social media and come to the source," Schaaf said, "every signature is signed by a machine and it's looked at by human beings of multiple different parties, nothing we do as a single individual."


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